Networking events can be extremely beneficial when searching for jobs or developing your career… if you know how to network correctly. It’s similar to any large party: Some people dive right in, become the “life of the party”, exchange tons of business cards, engage in fascinating conversations and come out with a bunch of leads and even some new friends. Others (the wallflowers) stand on the outskirts of the room, stick to themselves, and feel awkward about the idea of approaching strangers.
As a Recruiter for the IT, Creative, Web and Marketing industries, it’s my job to meet, greet and be social.
Here are 5 tips I’d like to share, to help you loosen up at these events!
1] Drunk Networking? No thank you.
Who doesn’t love some free booze? There’s nothing wrong with a drink or two, but know your limit. Some people use alcohol to “loosen up” and calm their nerves, but be careful. The connections that you are trying to make at these events are on a professional level; therefore you need to be sharp, clear, concise and on top of your game. You want to make a positive impression on your peers– stumbling and slurring will not get you there.
2] Have Sincere Conversations
Making small talk can be difficult- there is no doubt about that! The number one question that everybody asks is: “So, what do you do?” When answering this question, you want to keep it simple. There is a lot of industry jargon out there that can prevent meaningful conversations from happening. Remember, some of your job buzzwords might be obvious in meaning to you, but not to someone else. Your goal is for anyone to understand what it is that you do, even if they are not in the same industry as you.
3] Make Friends Beforehand
If you feel overwhelmed walking into a crowd of strangers, do a little prep before you attend the event. Many networking events publish their attendee lists beforehand. If you are able to get a hold of this list, pick out at least three people that you would like to target. Shoot them a LinkedIn request with a brief message about the event. This way, you can show up to the networking already knowing who you are looking to speak with!
4] Look Alive!
Be conscious of your stance and facial expressions at these events. No one wants to approach someone who looks miserable, stand-offish, or all simply like a “Debbie-Downer”. It may sound simple, but walk around with a smile on your face! If you give off a positive energy, people will be happy to talk to you.
5] Be Memorable
This doesn’t mean you have to act stupidly to gain attention. The easiest way to be remembered is by exchanging business cards. Once you receive a new business card, it is always helpful to jot down something specific about that person on their card to help your memory. Then, send out a LinkedIn request and detailed message to each person a day or two after the event to solidify the connection.
Still feeling nervous about networking? For even more advice on how to navigate networking events, check out this blog.
Use these tips to your advantage; the more networking events that you attend the more comfortable you will begin to feel, so have fun and get yourself out there! You will be the “life of the networking event” in no time.
Author Name – Jessica Gundling
Title – Recruiter
Location – Washington, DC
Twitter – @JessGund
Byline – Jessica is new to the recruiting world, and has been learning a tremendous amount about the industry. She is fascinated by the interactive space, and you can find her at different networking events where she is always eager to meet interesting people.
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