Networking is an essential key to a successful future. Business is all about who you know, not what you know. There’s no exact wrong and right way to network, but there are some methods that will help you significantly.
Attend networking events
This seems obvious, but so many people don’t feel the need to reach out in this manner. These events are planned for the sole purpose of networking, so if you play your cards right, you’ll leave with double the connections you came in with. Bring with you business cards, resumes, and a smile. Pro tip: Dress up depending on the industry. For example, if it’s a fashion networking event, dress stylish. If it’s a banking event, wear a suit.
Stand out from the others
What’s the one thing that makes you unique? The truth of the matter is, many will forget exactly who you are after speaking to them – especially if it’s at a popular event. Think of ways that will make you stand out among the hundreds of others trying to network. This is your golden nugget, the weapon you want to use to break into the industry and truly be remembered.
Practice your elevator pitch
And elevator pitch is exactly what it sounds like. Imagine you hop on the elevator with the person you’ve dreamed of working with. You only have a minute or so, what do you tell them? Preparing and practicing this speech will help you appear more confident, and therefore employers will more likely remember you when looking through applicants.
This is especially important when you are networking in an everyday situation. For example, talking to an employee at the business you aspire to work at. Make it less of a business pitch, more of a conversation. This will make you relatable, and therefore more likable. As a possible employee, these people want to know what you will add to the work environment besides knowledge.
This is one of the biggest mistakes that networkers make. Shoot the employer an email later that day. In the email say thank you and discuss briefly something that came up in conversation. For example: “I really enjoyed discussing the shift towards online advertising with you.” This way, they are refreshed of who you are and can put a name to the experience. Other ways you can follow up is by giving them a phone call or connecting with them on LinkedIn or other social media sites.
Be passionate about what you love
It’s easy to distinguish real passion and fake passion from each other. If you started a company, explain the solution you sought to create, why you went in the direction you did, and what keeps you so invested in it. By speaking about things that you are passionate about, you are your most authentic self – something the employers will remember.
Ask open-ended questions
It’s always awkward when conversations come to a lull. Avoid this situation by asking open-ended questions, as they will probe new questions and you will learn more about the person this way. Additionally, it allows them to ask you similar questions, so you can dig deeper into you experiences and make a lasting impression.
Know what you are looking for
Finally, know exactly what you are looking to get out of networking when you go to these events. That way you can cater your conversation around your professional intentions.
So with these tips, you’ll be ahead of the game when attending networking conferences. Our last piece of advice: be yourself. And finally, as Doug Ales says, “If your business comes from relationships, relationships should be your business.”