If you’re heading to a networking event, make sure you know why you’re going. I believe in having objectives. What’s yours? Are you looking for a job? Are you looking for contacts or a mentor to provide guidance or are you “just going” because your employer wants you to?
You’ve arrived at the event. Now what do I do, you ask yourself. Do you head for the buffet table & stuff your face or do you head straight for the bar & get blitzed? No, remember you have an objective, now’s not the time to get distracted by food or drink.
Here’s some tips that may help you get through your very first networking event.
1. Dress & act professionally. Shake hands firmly, make eye contact & show respect. A networking event can be a dress rehearsal for a job interview.
- 2. Men & women remember only those who stand out from the crowd. Be assertive, not obnoxious, you want to project self assurance.
- Bring cards. There’s nothing worse than establishing a good relationship with someone, not having any cards & having to scratch contact information on a cocktail napkin. Spend a few dollars for professional looking cards on quality stock & please remember this tip; even though your friends may know you as “Too Hot To Trot,” stick to a serious email address for business.
- Don’t monopolize people’s time. People want to mingle at networking events. Understand the person you’re speaking with has a life that extends beyond you.
- If someone says, “Sorry, we don’t have anything right now,” ask follow-up questions: “What’s the outlook for future possibilities? Do you know anyone else in the industry who might have something? Any thoughts on what my next step should be?” Persistence shows true interest on your part & may help the person you’re networking with come up with ideas he might otherwise overlook.
- Send a follow-up email within 24 hours expressing your thanks for getting the opportunity to me them & spend a few minutes getting to know more about them & their business. Also, ask for the permission to call them from time to time. If your budget allows, ask them for lunch.
- Don’t Lie. It’s tempting to say, “Bob gave me your name & told me to call.” It might get you a meeting, eventually Bill will learn that Bob didn’t tell you to call. You’ll have burned not 1, but 2 bridges.
- Have a good time, enjoy yourself & remember not to take yourself too seriously.