Much like an open coworking space, attending a networking event can be a great opportunity to—you guessed it—build your network. It’s an intimidating experience if you’ve never participated, especially if you have no idea how to approach it. Luckily, we’ve got a few tips to get you those LinkedIn connects:
Do your homework.
First things first—do some research on the event. Try to find out who’s attending, where they work, and some info on the companies that will be present. This will make starting conversations a little easier as well as giving you the flexibility to narrow down who you want to talk to. Just try not to sound like you know TOO much because you’ll just creep them out.
Set your goals.
Go in with a plan and figure out exactly what you hope to get out of the networking experience. Are you looking to find new job opportunities? Trying to grow your network? Or just looking to wander around the snack table aimlessly? Define your goal, plan your approach, and execute it.
Dress to impress.
If it’s a professional event, dress professionally. Be careful not to overdo it because you don’t want to be the person that stands out for the wrong reasons. If you did your homework (like we mentioned above), you can get a good sense of what the attire may be.
Know what you want to say.
Get ready to talk about work and repeat yourself throughout the event. It’s important to be able to convey your worth concisely, so practice what you want to say and anticipate the questions you’re going to receive. “Where do you work?”, “what is it you do exactly”, “how’s the cheese platter?”. Don’t fumble!
Business cards on deck.
It’s about to turn into a trading card game. Don’t bring a resume—it’s too much paper and nobody wants to carry around a bunch of sheets of paper. Instead, bring plenty of business cards with your most important contact information on them. Name? Check. Phone number? Check. Email? Check. LinkedIn? Double-check. Don’t forget to make valuable connections.
Bring a buddy.
Bringing a friend is a great way to easily join conversations and increase your network size.
Do: cover more ground and talk to more people with your friend.
Don’t: hang out and forget to converse with anyone else. It’s a networking event!
Most importantly, be yourself.
Don’t enter pretending to be something you’re not. A genuine person is easier to spot and approach and that’s the key to having a successful event. Be approachable, friendly, and yourself—you’ll be fine!
Now get out there, cast your net, and make it werq!