Networking events provide great opportunities to meet interesting people, develop new connections, stay current on industry trends, share business experiences and build public speaking confidence.
If it's your first event or your weekly outing, here are 5 easy steps to help you have fun and maximize your efforts at the next networking event.
1. Pitch, Prepare, Set Goals
Prepare to introduce yourself, have your personal pitch ready. A ten second elevator pitch will make a lasting impression.
Prepare simple answers to possible questions and set a few goals for the event. Who are you? What is your industry or business? Why are you at the event? Consider how long you will stay, maybe introduce yourself to 3-5 new people. Are you interested in joining the organization or want to build your network in a specific industry? Draft questions for the featured speaker, in case there is only a small window of opportunity to chat. Do you want to work on your causal conversation skills or promote a new business venture? Plan ahead.
2. Ask Questions, Be Creative
Try to avoid the most common icebreaker question at networking mixers: What do you do?
Good questions will lead to good conversations. Let people know you are an excellent person to connect with. Mix it up. How did you get started in your industry? What do you find challenging about your position? What are you working on at the moment? Why did you get involved with this organization? Is this the only networking event you attend?
Be creative with your questions and answers, have fun. Everyone has a good story. If you meet someone outside of your target network, they might be able to introduce you to someone that could help you.
3. Start Conversations
Remember, you are there to be social. Once you have set down your coat, don't look for a place to dig in for the entire evening. Engage. Maybe start near the bar. If you are drinking or having soda, conversations often take place near the bar. Avoid hovering around the sign-in table, bathroom or food table; feel free to insert yourself into conversations. Always try to meet the organizers, board members and staff, they will know most attendees and will always make introductions.
Avoid the "work the room" approach. Have quality conversations, instead of trying to meet everyone with only brief interaction and discussion.
4. Be Professional, Stay Professional
Professional or business causal, dress for comfort and interaction. Sure, wear the suit, being overdressed will only work to your advantage! You certainly deserve a drink at the end of a long day, just set a limit. Be professional, you can always meet friends after the mixer for more drinks.
In summary, just be yourself, have fun and remember to engage!
If you have questions or comments, we would love to hear from you! Please let us know if this post was helpful. Your feedback is always welcome!
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