Does networking scare you? You’re not alone. Walking into a room of people you don’t know can be very intimidating, but with a little preparation, much of that fear can be relieved.
Networking is a wonderful way of building relationships. Use it to your advantage by being prepared. We also challenge you to be a little bold. The ancient Romans summed it up well with their axiom, “Fortune favors the bold.”
There are five essential things you can, and should, do before your next networking event. Here’s how you can prepare:
1.) Think of Topics You Like to Discuss
How to start a conversation is a common fear among networkers. Tackle that fear by thinking of things that you like to discuss such as movies, books, hobbies, traveling, pets, or kids. This mental preparation helps with conversation starters. But also think of questions you can also ask about their careers: How did they get to be where they are, what did they study, where did they intern, etc…
2.) Know Who Will Be At The Event
If at all possible, get a list of who will be attending. Guess what? A few days before the event on November 14th, we WILL be sending a list of all attending Duluth area professionals! But, if you can’t obtain a list before the event, go a little early and ask the organizer for the information and then identify who you would like to meet. Look for people who are associated with organizations you would like to research or work for. Having a plan gives you a sense of purpose and eliminates the fear that you will be aimlessly walking around.
3.) Know What Message You Want to Convey
You want people to know what your strengths are and what opportunities you are seeking. When people ask you what you do, be prepared to tell them what positions you are seeking, what companies you are targeting and what your talents are. This is sometimes known as an “elevator speech” because it is short enough to say to someone you meet in an elevator. You may want to practice it on a friend so that you feel comfortable with your delivery.
4.) Track Your Contacts
The magic of networking is transforming a contact into a usually beneficial relationship. The only way that can be done is if you follow up with the person. Ask for a business card or at least get an email address. At home, either develop your own tracking system or choose one that you can use consistently. The important thing is you are able to easily find contact information when you go follow-up with the person.
5.) Know How You Will Follow Up
A way that we like to continue the relationship with a contact is to ask if they are on LinkedIn. If they are, go home and immediately ask them to connect. If they aren’t on LinkedIn, send them an email telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them. Depending on the person, you might also ask if they would like to meet for coffee. This is an easy way of furthering the relationship.
(Article provided by careerealism.com)