Making connections and meeting people in your industry is essential. Networking can be intimidating or extremely rewarding. It can be helpful if you’re new to a specific career. Perhaps you have no idea what you want to do. Networking gives you an opportunity to explore potential options and interests. In this article, we will discuss how to have networking success and professional networking events.
Now that you’re out in the real business world, building relationships in your industry is key to your success. Whether you’re starting your own business or jumping into a career it’s time to network. Making social connections online is great, but making face-to-face networking connections is even more critical.
Network before job hunting
Before you even begin the job hunt, start networking with others. This can be daunting but will help you in your future endeavors. Building relationships with those in your industry can help you get your foot in the door. It can also give you an opportunity to see which companies may be hiring. Networking before job hunting can help you identify mentors and those who can provide support throughout your career.
Come with a clear goal in mind
Everyone needs to have goals. Before attending a networking event, ask yourself the questions who do I want to meet and why do I want to meet them? At registration, some networking events offer a list of attendees. If they do supply this information, it would be wise to look it over. This will help you look ahead and consider potential mentors, potential customers, and employees you want to connect with. With a specific goal in mind, you can better prepare for and keep yourself more focused at a networking event.
Have conversation starters ready
Networking requires you actually talk to people and for some, this can be intimidating. First, you need to know your industry, trends, news, and what people are talking about. This will help you when you start up a conversation. Some great networking conversation starters include:
- What do you do for work?
- What brought you to this event?
- What do you think about this event so far?
- Are you familiar with any of the speakers?
Once you’ve had success starting up your first conversation, it will give you confidence for future connections and interactions at the networking event.
Introduce yourself to someone more experienced
There is always someone more experienced than you. Take advantage of this and engage in conversation rather than be intimidated. Be sure you have a purpose for speaking to them and approach them with confidence. Do not merely introduce yourself as a fan, but as an equal. Start by saying something thought-provoking, engaging, and something they can relate to. You admire the person for their leadership. You should give them an opportunity to know you by sparking interesting and relevant conversation.
Ask others about themselves
People love to talk about themselves. Part of networking is showing interest and listening to others. Showing genuine interest in someone else can say a lot about a person rather than just talking about themselves all the time. Also, if the person you’re talking to doesn’t reciprocate and encourages you to talk about yourself, the connection probably wasn’t very valuable to start with.
Write down notes after a meaningful conversation
Sometimes you’ll have a conversation with someone and forget some of the details of your conversation. This could be forgetting their name or where to follow up. One solution to avoiding this problem is to write yourself a note after each meaningful conversation. Your note doesn’t have to be comprehensive. Just write down a few sentences about who the person is and what you talked about to help jog your memory in the future.
Always follow up
Lastly, using those notes you took, follow up with the contacts from the networking event. When you’re ready to follow up, you’ll have all the information you need at your fingertips. Following up will make you look more professional. It will also help you build stronger relationships with people you’ve met. As part of your follow up, send a personalized LinkedIn message or email to the people you meet. This will show your interest in staying in touch. Next, if it seems appropriate invite the person to coffee to further connect with the person. Also, make effort to stay in touch with the person via email or social media.
Professional Networking Events
Now that we’ve discussed ways to network successfully, where do you find these professional networking events? Attending networking events is important and a great way to build your career. Some benefits of networking are learning new skills for a promotion, finding a job at another company, learning about more roles in your industry, and helping you find a mentor. Next time you’re looking for a professional networking event, consider these opportunities.
Happy hour meetups
Happy hour is a casual networking event. Generally, the event organizers rent a portion of the bar or restaurant for your group. It’s very laid back and gives people a chance to have a drink and a few appetizers while you get to know professionals on a more personal level.
This networking event is specific to your industry. You’ll learn about topics that apply to your career. Many event organizers plan time for some light snacks before the seminars. During the seminar, industry experts will teach a topic and content specific to your industry.
There are many virtual groups out there for industries that you can join. This is a great way to network. Many of these groups can be found on social media or online forums. A virtual group may use email newsletters to communicate. A common use of virtual groups is when an industry expert gives an online presentation through video conferencing. These experts can also open up a Q&A session as part of the presentation.
Career fairs are the perfect places for students and people just starting their careers. Many colleges and universities hold career fairs for their students to attend throughout the year. At the event, you can meet with representatives from different companies. This gives you a chance to introduce yourself and ask some questions about the company. Have a few copies of your resume with you. Many times companies with job openings will set up a booth at career fairs. Finally, networking events come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking for a job for the first time, looking for a new job, starting your own small business, or even changing careers, take advantage of networking events. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!