If you're not a social butterfly, networking solo can feel like a job interview. Regardless of what kind of networking event you attend, you have to dress to attract the "right" kind of attention, know how to answer and ask the right questions and have a bomb "about me" pitch.
And while that all sounds good, putting this into effect may be harder to do. So what are some key tips to networking?
Dress Your Best
You move differently when you feel like you're looking good. And whether we like it or not, the way we dress and carry ourselves sends a subconscious message to those around us. Dressing your best isn't about looking like someone else, it's about looking like your higher self, to present as your higher self. Whether it's making sure your hair is in a hairstyle that will stay in tact all night or wearing your favorite dress, put your best foot forward in fashion.
Get Clear On Your Networking Goals
Why are you networking? What's your career or job goal? Who's attending the event that you really want to see? What questions do you want to ask about the topic of discussion? When you're clear on your "why," you have a clear compass on what you need to do to achieve your networking goal.
Have An Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a brief synopsis of who you are, what you do, what your goal is and why you're there. Your pitch should be tailored to where you are. If you're attending a creative/entrepreneurial event, then talking about a technical job isn't going to strike a chord with other attendees – but that side project you've been working on after work will. What's always a good throw-in for networking events is where you're from. This can spark a conversation, especially if you are somewhere away from home. Practice your pitch ahead of networking to assure you're not talking too fast or too low.
Talk To The Person Next To You
How often have you gone to a panel event or conference where there was a guest speaker, and made the speaker your only agenda in hopes of landing a connection? Now how often has this turned out to be a failed 30-second convo? Sometimes the biggest connection you can make is the one with the person (or people) closest to you. Strike up a conversation about how the event is going or something interesting the speaker said or even where to get good food in the area. You never know who you're sitting next to and how a relationship can evolve. And if you see someone who's alone, take their oneness as an open window to connect with them too!
The most important thing is to be yourself. You want to build genuine connections with people who will get you, so why not bring your true self to the forefront to begin with? Give your input and opinion in conversations when you feel like it without the fear of worrying what people will think about what you said.
Everyone will not resonate with you, but by putting yourself out there you'll find at least one person you can vibe with for the night.
Remember The Names of People You’re Talking To
Whether you have to write it in your phone notes or say it every time you talk to them, don't forget names! Remembering someone's name does two things: 1) It helps you to get more personal and comfortable talking to the person and vice versa 2) It can help you stay focused on the conversation or to strike up one again when you walk away.
Exchange Contact Information
Don't strike up an interesting convo with someone and walk away thinking you'll see them later only to find they left shortly after your chat. Exchange information! Business cards aren't outdated just yet. Make sure to have yours handy and if the person doesn't have one, ask for their contact information and the best way to follow up with them. Some people are more active on LinkedIn than email, so this may be helpful to know.
Look For Future Events Hosted By The Organizer
If you signed up for an event with an organization via email, then you'll more than likely be notified of their future events and may even run into the same people again. Get familiar with the event organizers. It may even be helpful to connect with them to learn of similar networking opportunities, and ways you can be involved with their organization to grow in community on a deeper level.
Once you make your connections, follow up with them post the event 24-48 hours after meeting them. Don't send a generic email either, make sure to include a personalized touch to your message that connects with something you discussed. A sure way to keep the conversation going is to offer help or share an article on something related to what you talked about.
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