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Posted on 07.28.2016
How to Make the Most of a Networking Event
Networking events can be an unnecessary cause of stress. You may worry about awkward silences in conversation, stumbling over your words or whether or not your credentials sound impressive enough. You may be nervous about meeting new people or leaving with no new connections or opportunities.
Don’t let these helpful events stir up your anxiety – instead, think about how the event will benefit your professional career. Follow these guidelines to help relieve your stress and get the most out of your next professional networking event.
Before the event:
- Set an objective. Think about what you want to achieve from attending. Is it to meet potential partners or find a job opportunity? Having a goal will give you something to work toward at the event.
- Research who will be attending. You can do this by reviewing the RSVP list before the event. Looking through this list will help you identify individuals with whom you’d particularly like to speak.
- Practice your introduction. Prepare a brief spiel about yourself with your most interesting experiences. Additionally, think up a few questions or comments about the event’s topic to begin conversation with the other person.
- Be the first to offer your hand. Doing so will indicate you’re friendly and eager to converse.
- Hand out your card after making a connection. When you receive one in return, take a second to look at it to find out if there is anything that generates further discussion.
- Don’t forget to ask questions. Often people spend too much time talking about themselves. Ask thoughtful questions and pay close attention to what the other person has to say.
- Write notes on the backs of the cards you receive. This will remind you later what the other person said at an event. It also allows you to take time between one conversation and the next.
- Focus on how people feel when they're with you. By being a great listener, asking thoughtful questions and giving your undivided attention, you’ll make the other person feel heard and appreciated. People are more likely to remember the individuals who listened and made them feel important.
- Don’t spend too much time with any one person. To move on, suggest a follow-up activity with your current connection such as lunch, coffee or a phone call. This will allow you to speak at a later time and take advantage of the other individuals at the event.
After the event:
- Follow up within 72 hours or less. Send an email or a LinkedIn message telling the person you met that you enjoyed meeting them and refer to a topic you discussed, when appropriate. This is also a good time to ask for a follow-up meeting if you weren’t able to do so at the event.
- Enter the contacts in your contact list or connect on LinkedIn so you can reference them later.
- Do a search on Google and LinkedIn to look at individual bios and profiles. Consider setting up a Google News Alert for companies you want to follow, and follow individuals on Twitter, if applicable.
With these tips, you’ll ease your social jitters and be able to take full advantage of the relationship building opportunities that networking events offer. By feeling confident and prepared at your next coffee or luncheon, you can achieve the professional goals you’ve set for yourself.
Bailey Wimmer is an Assistant Account Executive at Lovell Communications. Connect with Bailey at Bailey@lovell.com.