Just hearing the word strikes fear into many a heart – Networking – walking into a room full of strangers, making small talk, and trying to ‘sell yourself’ without it being obvious can be quite terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be! If you prepare well, you will be able to get through your next networking event comfortably. You may even start looking forward to them!
Before the Event
Make sure you have enough business to hand out to the people you will meet. Also put aside a small notebook and pen, in case you want to jot something down, or get details from another attendee.
Even if the event you are attending serves food, have something small to eat beforehand. Juggling a plate of food and business cards is tricky!
Know your goals for attending this event. Are you looking to make contacts for potential partnerships? Looking for a mentor? Want to find new clients? Your goal will affect how you approach the event, who you talk to, what you talk about and so on.
Find out the dress code beforehand. While you certainly don’t have to conform to style’s you aren’t comfortable with, if you show up looking very different to everyone else (and aren’t comfortable ‘standing out’), it could make the whole experience uncomfortable and awkward for you.
Prepare your ‘Elevator Pitch’. This is a short, 30 second introduction to yourself and the work you do.
Practice your pitch with other players while you are playing roulette for fun in the evenings.
At the Event
Arrive early, so you can get comfortable when there aren’t too many people around yet. Smile – even if you are nervous! Heard of the phrase ‘fake it ‘til you make it’? It works!
Try to move around every 5-6 minutes and mingle with new groups. When you meet someone new, shake their hand and repeat their name. This will help it stick.
Listen. This is a vital part of networking and developing relationships. Ask questions and really care about the responses that are given to you.