Making the Most of Networking Events

Network, network, network: it’s one of the most common pieces of advice that job seekers hear. Networking events can be incredibly intimidating for some people who aren’t naturally outgoing or unfamiliar with networking events. We’ve laid out a few tips and advice to not only help you overcome the ‘fear’ of these events but also help you get the most out of these events to benefit your job search.

Before the Event
Get prepared for the event by gathering resources you might need (business cards, pens, notepad) so that you’re not empty-handed at the event. Also, know your goals and what you want to accomplish at the event. Are you going to make a few connections, talk to a specific person or just to promote yourself as a job seeker? Decide the types of people you want to connect with at the event, most events have an attendee list available so make sure to research the people attending. Also, research the dress code for the event. Some events are business formal whereas many events are simply business casual. Preparing as much as possible before the event will make you that much more comfortable upon arriving and can calm your nerves.

At the Event
Don’t be shy and choose your conversations wisely. Your goal should not be to speak with every individual in the room, it should be to make lasting connections with people. Limiting yourself to 5-10 people will allow you to have meaningful conversations rather than quick introductions. When you meet someone, shake their hand and repeat their name so that you remember it. Look people in the eye, smile and remember to listen more than you talk.  Introduce yourself and briefly explain your background, also known as an Elevator Speech.

Try to ask questions and listen attentively to answers rather than glancing around the room, make each person feel like they are the most important person in the room, this will truly make a lasting impression. Remember that everyone at the event is there to do the same thing you are, to meet people! Try not to let your nerves get the best of you and be yourself. Lastly, don’t forget to exchange contact information!

After the event
If you traded business cards with several people that you feel you could make a lasting business connection with, follow up with them within a day of the event. If it’s a person you feel could impact your job search, call them up and invite them to coffee or a lunch. Also, if you can think of a connection you already have that would benefit someone you met at the event, do them a favor and introduce these people to one another. Either way, follow up with the important connections you make and your network will begin to grow!

Want to put this advice to work? Check out the Celarity Calendar for upcoming marketing and creative networking events in the Twin Cities!

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