Networking can be difficult and not being prepared can keep you from making connections that matter.
If you’re newer to networking or you’ve been attending events but haven’t felt prepared, don’t worry! These simple tips will have you ready to roll in to your next networking opportunity feeling ready, excited and unstoppable!
Unless you’ve been networking for awhile, it can be hard to figure out what to bring, what to wear, how to act, and what to do after the event has ended. It may even seem like everybody knows something you don’t, which can make it hard to connect and may even make you feel left out. Don’t worry, every great networker started out where you are today! It takes most people some time to become comfortable in their networking, so I’ve compiled a list of things I do before going to an event. My hope is that it will help you be better prepared and feel more confident for your next networking opportunity!
Before the Event
1) Dress appropriately! A good standard is to to wear a nice pair of slacks with a shirt and blazer. If you’re planning on wearing a dress or skirt, ensure that it is long enough for you to sit and move comfortably. Dress as if you’re going to a job interview.
2) Prepare your intro. At most networking events, you’ll have a few minutes to say something about yourself, what you do, and why you’re there. It can be overwhelming to give so much information in such a short amount of time, so prepare beforehand. Write it out and practice saying it in to a mirror until it feels natural—then you’ll know exactly what to say at each event!
TIP: For a great intro, think about it like this: If the other person were to remember only a few things about you, what would you want them to know? A good starting place is, “Hello, my name is (insert name). I am a (insert job description) with (insert company name) and I am here because (insert reason).”
3) Prepare a networking kit at least a day beforehand so that you’re all ready to go on the morning of the event. In my networking kit I always pack:
a. My business cards (preferably in a business card holder)
c. Small sticky notes
d. Directions to the event (or plug address into your GPS ahead of time)
e. Gum or mints
f. A small envelope to put other peoples’ business cards into
h. A small notebook
TIP: If you’re worried about losing any of the above items, or you have trouble staying organized, designate a single bag to be your “networking kit,” and don’t use it for anything but networking! You can keep your networking kit together in this bag and have it at the ready whenever you need it.
4) As you meet people at the event, writes notes about their business and why you want to connect with them on a sticky note and put it on their business card. Then, place the business card into the envelope in your networking kit so that at the end of the event, all of your new contacts are in one place and easy for you to follow up with.
Networking can be difficult and learning how to do it well takes practice. However, being prepared for the event is the first step to making a positive, lasting impression.