Ace Your Next Networking Event With These 7 Tips
You finally arrive. You feel your heart beating out of your chest and your palms start to get sweaty. You then lose your motivation and start to question yourself on why you even came. This might sound like when you arrive at a networking event and there’s a room full of strangers. You see everyone happy in conversation laughing with their wine glass in hand and you feel lost. Here are 7 tips to confidently walk into your next networking event and leave feeling like a BOSS.
Be prepared and have a plan. Seriously, have a plan. Have your business cards ready, don’t wait until the day of the event to print them. Make sure your phone is fully charged along with your portable charger. Do your research on the organizer hosting the event and who might be there. Look for reviews/videos so you can prepare yourself on what to expect. Wear a posh and professional outfit that’s comfortable so you feel confident working the room (ladies be aware of how high your heels are and how short your dress may be) Finally, make sure your LinkedIn profile and social media platforms look appealing.
Smile. Be Genuine. Be Fearless. When you first arrive, you might feel extremely anxious. That’s totally okay. Go to the restroom, take a few deep breaths, fix yourself up and pull yourself together. Get familiar with the venue, grab a drink or small bite then start walking around to find someone to chat with.
Know your elevator pitch. Prior to the event, write out and practice your elevator pitch. This is a 30-second informative statement on who you are and what you do. Be bold, be precise and don’t use ridiculous jargon.
Join in conversation. After you’ve relaxed your nerves, scoped out the room and perfected your elevator pitch it’s time to hop into the conversation! You can kindly join a conversation by asking “hi, do you mind if I join in here?” (everyone’s expecting to meet strangers at a networking event so of course, you’ll get a yes). Greet everyone in the conversation with a firm handshake. The spotlight is now on you, be ready to launch that elevator pitch!
Focus on making solid connections. Don’t just work the room and talk to everyone. Seek to speak to people who you feel like can be a resourceful connection. If you don’t know who to speak to look for name tags with brand logo’s, a corner with a sign that names a specific industry or look for familiar faces from your LinkedIn search you did the night before. 3 solid connections that will lead to a collaboration or opportunity is better than 10 lousy ones.
Listen. While in conversation, it’s very important to listen to what’s being said. You might hear that someone is launching a project that they need help on or you might need to mention what you spoke about in your follow up email. Listen so you can be engaged in the conversation.
Have a Call to Action & Follow up. When ending the conversation with someone, always have a call to action. Ask “do you mind if I send you my resume via email? Can I add you on LinkedIn? Can I shadow you at your next hosting event?” Find a way to stay in touch with that person to build a professional relationship. Go home, rest, do your research on that person and send that follow up email!
Once you get home, give yourself credit for acing your networking skills. Don’t let it stop here, use these tips while at work, on the train or at Starbucks. Remember, we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, it’s a habit. -Aristotle