Often, people at networking events have no idea what they are doing. Some come disheveled from work or from dinner and expect to network right off the bat. And when it comes time to actually networking, they either have unrealistic expectations or might not know where to start. It’s tough to network unprepared.
Here are a few tips to advance your networking approach:
1. Be Prepared
Don’t underestimate the way you dress. By dressing competently and appropriately, you can present yourself as a strong, successful business professional. So tuck in the dress shirt, take off the baseball cap, and spent a few extra minutes getting ready in the morning.
Also, bring more business cards than you plan to give out. Too often, networkers don’t bring the right number of business cards to an event and are frequently shy a few cards. How are we supposed to reconnect?
Finally, do your homework. Study the guestlist. Be familiar with the people that will be in attendance, and pinpoint the people and the industries that you want to get acquainted with. This will expedite your success during the few hours you have to network.
2. Take Advantage
Networking events are tough to fit into our hectic schedules, so when you have the chance, take advantage! Greet people that you’ve met before and catch up. Greet people that you haven’t met before or are standing alone and introduce yourself, they’re here for the same reasons you are. Next thing you know, you’ll be owning the room.
3. Follow Up
When leaving the event, your networking experience is far from over! Follow up with the people you have connected with because they may be your next best connection. And do so within a reasonable amount of time. We recommend 24-48 hours maximum, if not immediately following the event. After the mixer, find the three most important people you met that evening and send them a personalized email right then. Your excitement in the opportunity of growing the relationship will shine.
Networking is a step-by-step process for you to develop relationships. Be prepared, take advantage, follow up, and most importantly, be yourself.