We get it – the idea of stepping into a room full of strangers armed with nothing but your business cards and a smile can be a bit daunting. But fear not, because we’ve got your back. Whether you’re a seasoned networker or just dipping your toes into the networking waters, here are some easy and approachable tips to help you make the most out of those networking events.
Bring a Buddy for Support
Walking into a room full of unfamiliar faces can be nerve-wracking, but it’s a lot less intimidating when you have a buddy by your side. So, bring along a friend or colleague who’s also interested in networking. Having someone you know can ease those initial jitters and make striking up conversations easier. Additionally, with a friend or colleague, you’re essentially doubling your networking power! Not only do you have the chance to connect with new people, but your buddy can introduce you to individuals they already know. This opens up a whole new avenue for meeting professionals you might not have come across on your own.
Jot Down Notes on Business Cards
Networking isn’t just about making a good impression during the event – it’s about building lasting relationships afterward. You will no doubt leave any event with a handful of business cards and might not always remember what was talked about. A simple solution is after chatting with someone, jot down a few key points on the back of their business card that you chatted about. This could be a conversation topic, a shared interest, or even a funny anecdote – anything that will jog your memory when you follow up later.
Find Smaller Events in Your Comfort Zone
If the idea of navigating a massive networking conference gives you too much anxiety, start small. Look for events that focus on subjects you’re already comfortable with. At these events, you’ll likely meet like-minded professionals who share your interests or industry focus. This common ground can be a natural icebreaker and conversation starter. You can discuss industry trends, specific challenges, or shared passions, creating a more authentic connection with those you meet.
Pro tip: Attend the same networking event a couple of times. This gives you the chance to see familiar faces, strike up follow-up conversations, and gradually build those relationships over time!
Mind Those Social Norms
Networking isn’t just about what you say – it’s also about how you say it. Pay attention to social norms and cues. Remember to make eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and respect personal space. These little things go a long way in making a positive impression.
Here’s the truth: Not every networking event or group will be your perfect fit, and that’s absolutely fine. If you attend an event and it doesn’t resonate with you, don’t force it. Your time is valuable, so focus on finding events that align with your goals and comfort level. Networking is all about building connections, so be yourself, show genuine interest in others, and make the most out of it!