By Kim Brown
Congratulations on registering for a networking event! One of the biggest anxieties people have about networking events (especially the first one) involves what to expect. This post is meant to take the edge off by offering advice on HOW to network.
Preparing for the event:
- How will you know who to approach? Do your homework. Ask for a list of attendees before the event. Then, go to LinkedIn to find their pictures and learn a little bit about them beforehand.
- Practice your self-introduction. This is commonly referred to as an “elevator pitch” because of its brevity. Just include your name and a few key pieces of information about yourself.
Now a few rules:
- Your nametag goes on your right side. That way, it’s easily visible when you’re shaking someone’s hand.
- Being a wallflower won’t work. Think about what you have in common with other attendees. If you’re going to a SUccess in the City event, talk about your love for SU to start the conversation!
- Look other people in the eye, LISTEN to what they say, and don’t be afraid to guide them to topics you want to talk about. No one wants to talk about the weather for 10 minutes straight unless you’re networking in an effort to become a meteorologist.
What to talk about/how to start conversations:
- Try asking a question. If you’ve done your research ahead of time, this should be pretty easy. Questions are much easier to ask than you think. Trust me.
- Try making a statement. “This is such a gorgeous space.” “It’s awesome to see so many Syracuse grads in the same place.” Just make a statement and let the person you’re talking to play off of it. Again, easier than it sounds.
So how do I “get away”?
Have you run out of things to say? Are you anxious to talk to someone else? It’s OK to leave the conversation…politely.
- It’s OK to say “I see my friend (or my colleague) so-and-so over there. I’m going to go catch up with her.” You can also tell the other person that you’d like to get a little more to eat or drink or perhaps just excuse yourself to use the restroom. All of those work as excuses to “get away.”
- Thank the person before leaving the conversation.
Following up matters:
- Consider a spreadsheet for your networking. Write down the next step, what you owe whom/what they owe you.
- Find the person on LinkedIn and send a **personalized** connection note, with a request for a next meeting, if possible.
- Consider writing a handwritten note (or e-mail, but handwritten is better) to thank particularly helpful connections.