Networking events are daunting for most young people because most don’t know what to do on such events or they don’t get to meet their expectations. For the 6 months I’ve been in the ALX Launchpad program, I have mastered a few tips that I would like you to put into consideration before you walk into your next networking event.
Don’t ask for a Job, create a relationship instead.
A networking event is not the place to ask for a job, but a place to establish relationships with people who are likely to help you advance your career. Rather, share what you envision the next step of your career to be. Sharing your future goals tells the person you are looking for opportunities without directly telling them. It also lets them know the type of opportunities they might share with you if they come across something.
Avoid talking too much about yourself.
It’s very okay if you take the lead in directing the conversation but talking too much about yourself or your businessis is harmful. Instead, take the time to listen to the person you are networking with. Ask questions to get to know the other person and understand what they do. As you build a personal connection, potential business opportunities often present themselves. You may also find out that they have a need or a problem that you can help solve. If you connect well with them, you may be able to set up a one-on-one appointment with them before or after the event.
As Steve Boehlk the writer of 50 Leadership lessons says, a good leader asks a lot of questions.
Avoid meeting everyone in the room.
Don’t focus on meeting everyone in the room and gathering as many business cards as possible. A brief conversation doesn’t really develop a personal connection and calling/emailing people you’ve only met briefly is no different with cold calling/emailing. Focus on spending quality time with a few people rather than a little time with many people.
Have a clear goal in Mind.
So as not to wander in your conversations, it’s is important to have a clear goal in mind. Know what you want to get out of the event before you walk into the room. Set a goal for how many people you will meet, how many appointments you will set, how many business cards you will collect and how many people you will reconnect with. The rule here is don’t just enter into a networking event without a goal. Even if it’s meeting one person.
Don’t go with a friend.
I have been a victim of this in several networking events but I’m slowly learning to stop attending events with friends. Don’t go to a networking event with a friend as you are likely to talk to them during the entire event. Break away from the comfort zone of the people you know and meet someone new and start a new relationship. Grow your network. Your income is directly related to the size of your network.
Do a follow up.
This is where the idea of meeting few people and connecting to a personal level excels. Imagine collecting 20 business cards and now you have to write 20 cold emails or phone calls. Chances are, 5 will reply back but you will have a hard time establishing that relationship. After the networking event, do a follow up with the people you connected with. You can write personalized follow-up emails to let them know you enjoyed meeting them. You could also mention something you talked about. This is also the time to suggest any follow-ups, for example, you can ask your new contact to meet you for an informational interview.
I hope you find this helpful!