When it comes to attending hiring fairs, conferences or events, you know that some heavy duty networking is inevitably awaiting you. Some love putting on that “Hello, my name is” sticker and conversing with strangers, but for most, networking can be an awkward experience. Here are some great tips on how to make your networking experience a success.
- Before the event, set an attainable goal. Are you looking for new hires? Searching for an industry mentor? Hoping to spread awareness on a new project you are heading? It is important to have a clear purpose at any networking effort. Set a goal of how many people you would like to connect with. You can even obtain a guest list before the event and highlight those you would like to meet. Keep your goal in mind!
- Spend time practicing a few natural and relevant conversation starters. If you are flying solo, try to ease into the evening by approaching someone who is also alone. Ask them questions about what they do and be genuine in your interaction. Obviously, you want to appear natural in your approach but at the same time it doesn’t hurt to prep a little by getting up to date on industry news and trends.
- Come prepared with business cards and info about your company. Offering a card or pamphlet is one of the easiest ways to begin a conversation at a networking event. Make sure your card and other materials are designed well and offer a great representation of your company.
- Set a strategy for exiting the conversation. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than trying to end a conversation. I love this tip from Hub Spot’s Blog: “If there’s a lull in conversation, say “Please let me know how that project goes, I’d love to see it and hear how it turns out.” This will show you were engaged, and though it ends the conversation in the moment, they won’t feel offended. Alternatively, consider asking them “Have you seen anyone from [company name] tonight? I’ve been meaning to chat with them.” This will kindly express that it’s important to you to expand your network.” Offer your card before you leave, and you will have made a seamless exit.