Networking can be an asset to anyone’s career, whether you’re just starting out or well established in your field. But it can also be incredibly daunting. A room full of strangers? Awkward introductions? Yikes! It can sometimes feel like a middle school dance all over again.
But wait! It doesn’t have to be that way. I’m a firm believer that you attract what you put out into the world, so be confident and you’ll be able to navigate your next event like a pro. Here are some helpful tips to help you rock your next networking event:
- Before you even plan to attend an event, spend some time doing research. Look for events where you’ll have a lot in common with attendees—this can be based on your age range (under 30 events are always popular), your day job (educational events within your field), or even something you’re personally interested in (a nonprofit, a hobby, or even a seminar).
- If you’re attending a networking event that is outside of your professional field, be prepared to give your elevator pitch. A strong elevator pitch should be about 30 seconds long and highlight your professional experience. Leave it open ended—your elevator pitch should start a conversation, not serve as a personal memoir. Let the individual you’re speaking with ask the follow-up questions to keep the conversation running smoothly.
- If the networking event you’re attending is within your professional field, be prepared to talk about current projects you’re working on. Chances are the individual you’re speaking with has already heard of your company and may have a good understanding of what you do—no need to bore them with repetitive information. Talk about something you’re currently working on, or maybe even a project that you just wrapped up (bonus if you have metrics to speak to!).
- Whatever the networking event is, be a good listener when people introduce themselves to you. Ask thoughtful questions and stay engaged. As the old adage goes, you never know when you may run into this person again!
Networking can be daunting but try to remember that the other individuals attending the event are there for a lot of the same reasons you are. They serve as a great place to find potential customers, peers within your field, and maybe even a new friend or two.
Be confident in your approach and you’ll surprise yourself—maybe you’ll even start attending these events more frequently.