You’re standing in the corner of the room, adjusting your suit coat and desperately wishing you were standing closer to the door to make a quick escape. If you’ve been there, you’re not alone.
Networking can be downright nerve-wracking, but these tips can help catapult you from wallflower to networking extraordinaire.
Remember your goal. You are there to extend your network. Take a deep breath and say hi! A firm handshake and a smile will go a long way. And remember – the other person is likely just as nervous as you.
Be prepared. Have some universal questions ready—general or specific. Have you been to an event like this before? Are you from the area? In addition to asking those questions, it’s also a good idea to be prepared to answer them.
Be genuine. Take the time to get to know the individual you’re talking with. Pay attention. Maintain eye contact and ask questions. Networking is a two-way street; be sure to give the other party time to speak. Be yourself and let your personality shine.
Show your professionalism. Keep a clear mind, communicate effectively and leave a lasting – positive – impression. Additionally, be aware of your attire. It’s better to dress professionally than to arrive underdressed.
Use LinkedIn to make connections. If you have the LinkedIn app on your phone, take advantage of the “Find Nearby” feature. This feature displays nearby LinkedIn members along with the option to connect with them. Use it as an easy introduction when you walk up to someone: “Hi, I just found you via LinkedIn and wanted to make sure we connected!”
Follow up. What’s the point of collecting all business cards if you aren’t going to do anything with them? Within 48 hours, take the time to send an email thanking your new contacts for their time. Add a comment about the topic you discussed (that way they remember you too!). And, if you didn’t have a chance to connect at the event, now is a good time to send a request.
Try these tips at your next event and you will be on your way to growing your professional network – an important step in building your career.