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10 Tips for Better Networking
Networking is an essential aspect to any person looking to succeed in their career. Many people find it to be a daunting task. If you’re not experienced with networking events it can seem weird to walk into a room full of people you don’t know and start conversations. If you’re shy or you’re simply not an experienced networker, here are 10 tips to help you succeed and make connections at a networking event.
1. Relax. If you’re nerves are getting the best of you prior to the event, try and remember that everyone is there for the same reason; to meet other professionals and expand their network. You’re not the only one who is nervous!
2. Be prepared! Make sure you have business cards on hand and any other materials you might need. If it’s a portfolio review or an event where you’ll be talking to someone about specific work, bring that along as well.
3. Plan your introduction. To cut some of the nerves you might be feeling, practice how you introduce yourself to people and plan a short elevator pitch. This will keep you from fumbling over your words and will also help you appear confident. You may also want to prepare a few questions you plan on asking your fellow networkers to help with conversation flow.
4. Set goals. No matter your reason for attending the event, figure out what you’re hoping to do. Are you hoping to get your name out there as a job seeker? Let people know that. Are you trying to cultivate potential new clients? Have that in mind and it will help your conversations flow. By setting goals, you know what you’re looking for and what type of people you should seek out at the event.
5. Listen. It’s a known fact that people enjoy talking about themselves, so ask questions and listen to answers intently. Find out about the other person, where they work, their past experiences, etc. People appreciate someone who listens to answers instead of talking about themselves.
6. Research. Most networking events have an attendee list available. Before you attend the event do some research on the types of people that will be there, this will help you with #4, know who you should talk to and how to achieve the goal of the networking event.
7. Others first. This goes along with #5 but try and keep in mind that your first goal of networking should be to help others first, after they will be willing to help you with your needs.
8. Don’t dismiss people. Although you may have specific goals in mind for your networking, if someone approaches you, take the time to learn about them. You never know what connections come in handy in the future and you don’t want to come across as rude and cold.
9. Extend yourself. For many, walking up to a stranger can be uncomfortable, but for your networking skills to improve you have to try and step outside of your comfort zone every so often. The event was created for people to connect!
10. Have fun! Networking doesn’t have to be boring. Creating lasting connections for your career should be exciting and if you enter into it with a positive mindset, you’ll have more fun!