For the extroverts of the world, networking events are like a piece of cake. Sweet, smooth, and oh-so-delicious. But if you’re the type of person who gets sweaty palms at the thought of conversations with strangers, then consider this blog post for you!
- Go into the networking event with a clear goal in mind
- Get ready to build rapport and engage in good conversation
- Have an elevator pitch prepared in case you come across the right people
- Brush on the latest industry trends to make new connections
- Seek out new connections and relationships as opposed to staying in familiar groups
- Start off professional relationships by asking them about themselves
- Use the other person’s name 2-3 times when relationship building
- Maintain steady eye contact as you talk and listen
- Focus on being you, not your personal brand
- Have your contact information ready
- Jot down a few notes after making a new contact
- Exit each networking event gracefully
- Follow up on those professional relationships
There’s no need to be afraid of a networking event. Really, it won’t bite!
Sure, most events involve hundreds of companies and clients, all having roundtable discussions about career advice and industry trends. But what’s so scary about that?
(Okay, reading it back now, we get it. That was a lot to take in.)
But a networking event has so much more to offer you than just a panic attack or a case of hives. And who knows?
Maybe by the time you’re through this article, you’ll be attending networking events left and right!
See Related: How To Build Relationships With Employees
What is a networking event?
Okay, you probably already know what a networking event is. But let’s just go over its very definition again.
The traditional definition
Networking events are a set up for other professionals to get to know one another and make solid connections. They might be more formal like at a convention.
Or, they might be casual and held at a happy hour. For those on the job search hunt, upcoming events such as these could land them a job interview just by talking to the right person.
Why are networking events important?
Ultimately, at the end of the day, these events are actually a fairly low-stakes way for you to meet another person while expanding your own opportunities.
See? Now that does sound like a piece of cake.
Before networking events
Once you find networking events that you want to attend, start prepping for them. Yes, you’re just “meeting people,” but you could land yourself in the convention hall with the right people and that’s what it’s all about.
#1. Establish a clear goal in mind
Maybe your goal is to establish some feelers for a new job opportunity. Or maybe, you’re simply looking to introduce yourself and connect with other professionals in your field.
Either way, having that clear goal in mind will help you gain the confidence you need to walk through the event. Besides, knowing what you want will help you get to the point.
That way, you won’t just be reciting your resume out loud for anyone listening. (Yikes!)
#2. Brush up on your small talk
Okay, hear us out! Sure, small talk conversations aren’t necessarily full of substance.
But you have to develop a rapport with the other clients attending. You may hate these kinds of things.
But trust us when we say that playing into this part of the mingling process will help you down the line.
You may end up getting a job out of an unlikely interaction you had with someone who also traded Pokemon cards as a kid! (Or an adult…)
#3. Prepare an elevator pitch especially if you’re on a job search
If you find that the next networking event is hosted virtually by a company you’re interested in, develop an elevator pitch. Begin gathering your thoughts on how you want to introduce yourself to this industry.
When should I recite my elevator pitch?
Make sure that you’re ready to recite this at the proper moment. Of course, only whip this out if the moment presents itself.
You don’t want to look like someone who’s got too narrow a goal in mind. Or, even worse, interrupt the virtual event host who’s speaking!
It’s just always best to prepare for anything. And a short pitch is a great way to go!
#4. Make sure you’re aware of the latest trends in your industry
If you’re worried about how to talk to people, just keep abreast of the latest trends in your company or industry. That way, you’ll get involved in a conversation more quickly.
And you’ll get to show off just how much you know! But don’t actually be a show-off about it. Nobody likes that.
During the networking event
You’ve entered the room. You look around and see so many faces you don’t know… Now what?
#5. Avoid meeting up with your friends and look for new people to connect with
In most cases, when you’re in a new place, you’ll tend to gravitate toward people you know. Or maybe you’ll be too captivated by the clean comedian they have as entertainment for the event!
Either way, try to resist the urge to schmooze with people you already know. Or that comedian – unless, of course, you have a connection with them in mind.
Why can’t I hang back by familiar people?
If they’re people you know, you don’t necessarily need to network with them. It’s the people you don’t know who will offer the most networking opportunities available.
This doesn’t mean you can’t say hello to people you know.
But if you’re looking to connect across companies or get the latest information for your job search that’s on the down low, then this is the perfect event for you to get to networking and make connections with someone else.
We get it – it can be scary to put yourself out there! But as corporate performers, we’re used to doing so and reaping the benefits of it.
When you take that leap, you have the opportunity to showcase who you truly are. And if somebody else likes what you’re putting down, then you’ve done yourself proud.
#6. Ask the other person questions first before you start speaking
A conversation is like a dance. And like dance, you need to have a little give-and-take with your partner.
For some, talking is easy. It’s like they already have their resume memorized and they’re just going through the list, ticking boxes off as they go.
But that doesn’t make for a fun back-and-forth now, does it? Ask the other person questions so that you can connect and demonstrate your curiosity.
It’s always flattering when someone takes an interest in you. And let’s be real. These networking functions are all about schmoozing.
#7. When you do speak, use the other person’s name two to three times
Odds are, you’re going to meet a lot of new people at these types of functions, even if they’re virtual networking opportunities.
No, really, you’d be surprised just how good a virtual emcee can make an introduction between folks!
Here’s a simple trick of the trade
When you get the chance, repeat the person you’re talking to’s name to get it to stick in your head. This repetition will also demonstrate your interest in what they have to say.
And that way, it will be easier for you to recall what you talked about when you follow up later. Easy, right?
This is just one of the simple tricks we corporate entertainers like to infuse into our conversations with others. It’s a quick and easy way of training your brain to get a handle on someone else’s name.
And it also makes that person feel seen. Isn’t that what we’re all after anyway?
#8. Maintain steady eye contact
Maybe this goes without saying. But if you’re the type of person who can’t maintain eye contact when they’re nervous for example, try your best to.
Communication is everything
Communication is so much more than just the words we say. It’s the way we say them and the way we listen to others.
So get ready for some deep (but appropriate) gazing. You can always sign up for some shut-eye after the event.
#9. Be yourself, not a personal brand
Sometimes, a networking event can feel like a battle of brands. For example, you’ve got one company trying to establish its footprint in one corner.
And another company offering up a new career to those interested in another corner. But when you find yourself having a one-on-one conversation with someone, just be yourself.
Sure, we try to sell ourselves for our desired career or industry. But at the end of the day, you shouldn’t promise what you can’t deliver.
So focus on being exactly who you are. That will speak more volumes than any brand ever will.
#10. Keep your business cards ready to hand out
It’s not necessarily poor form to hand out your resume at networking events. But let’s just say that cards have a little more sophistication to them.
Always keep your cards ready as you go through and network with various individuals. After all, you want them to remember you!
#11. Write notes on the business cards you receive
Don’t think that cards are unique to only your career. You will without a doubt receive plenty of other people’s cards at your next event!
Be sure to take notes on the person you talked to when they hand you their card. Not only will this help you remember that person better.
It will also help you with following up. And maybe even meet up at the next event!
#12. Exit each conversation gracefully
We all know first impressions count. But don’t think you’ve got over the hill of a first impression just because you started the conversation off with a bang!
Learn how to exit a conversation gracefully by thanking them for their time. Maybe offer up your card and mention that you see a fellow colleague you know from across the room.
Either way, make it gracious. The last thing you want to do is ruin the entire event because you darted from one handshake to the next, leaving people with their jaws hanging down because you left rudely.
(We doubt you’d do such a thing. But we thought it’d be better to mention it than not!)
After the networking event
You can take a deep breath now! You did it! But the work isn’t done…
#13. Follow up
First off, congratulations on making it through the event! Your network has now expanded!
Now, it’s time to follow up. Following up is a crucial step whenever you’re trying to make a lasting impression.
After all, we all know how awful it feels when someone fails to follow up. Especially when you thought you had a real connection!
So keep your network strong by reaching out. Even if over social media or email.
Just let them know that you’re still thinking of your exchange at the event. Besides, it’s always nice to be thought of!
It’s all connected
We can’t guarantee that these tips will mitigate your panic attacks and social anxiety altogether. But hopefully, they make your next networking event more manageable!
After all, these types of events are only here to help you. And when you think about it, it’s a pretty unique thing to be offered so many opportunities all in one place.
Ultimately, networking is all about taking chances. Yes, it can be scary to put yourself out there.
But how else are you going to grab onto the next best opportunity? When it comes to networking, you’re always going to have to bet on yourself.
So do it with a smile on your face and with these helpful ideas in your back pocket!
Keep Reading: How To Get Into Stand-Up Comedy
Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular corporate entertainer, magician, and virtual speaker.