Networking Soon? Here’s How to Work the Room
Even if you’re not big on networking events, they can be rewarding to attend. Whether raising your profile with area employers or leading to a job offer on the spot, working the room opens the door to potential opportunities you may not even expect. Learn how to navigate your next networking event — and get the most from it — with these five helpful tips.
1. Dress to Impress
You’ve likely heard the saying “First impressions are everything.” Help put your best foot forward with threads that match the occasion — whether the event calls for business formal, business casual, festive fashion, cocktail wear, or other attire — and consider leaning toward the conservative end of the look. Dressing to impress will boost your confidence and leave a positive impression on the ones you meet.
2. Prepare an Elevator Pitch
Chances are you’ll have something in common — no matter how seemingly minor — with everyone at the event, and folks will want to learn more about you. How can you prepare? Craft a short, informative pitch beforehand that kick-starts the conversation and allows you to showcase what you can bring to the table.
3. Research Ahead of Time for Efficiency
All networking events are set up a little differently, and time at these events can go by quickly, thus research and flexibility are keys. What do you want to get out of the event? With whom would you like to chat? Plan ahead, so you arrive prepared to engage with current contacts you hope to see and other industry insiders you’re soon to meet.
4. Venture Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Attending networking events with friends or colleagues can bolster your confidence, but breaking away from the safety of your clique can also pay off in spades. Remember that a potential employer likely won’t hire your whole posse. Challenge yourself to set your own agenda, to home in on what’s most important to you at the event, and to initiate at least a couple conversations with folks you don’t know.
5. Be Present in Every Conversation
Nearly everyone has had a moment of feeling disengaged from a conversation and wanting to run for the door. With the knowledge that everyone’s time is valuable and that each person brings something important to the event, commit to being present, listening with interest, and asking relevant follow-up questions. This helps build credibility and could lead to a production connection you didn’t expect.
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