If networking makes you feel icky, you’re doing it wrong. Reframe your understanding of networking as a way to build and maintain relationships with likeminded professionals. Review tips and advice for winning a networking event below.
Before a Networking Event
Set a goal for yourself and research contacts who are attending the event (if an RSVP list is available). Your research efforts may be helpful for who you want to intentionally connect with at the event. A clearly defined goal will provide focus and direction for all of your conversations.
Speaking of conversations, do you have a networking pitch prepared? Think about how you want to introduce yourself to the contacts you want to connect with. Your networking pitch should clearly communicate who you are and what you do.
During a Networking Event
Remember the tip mentioned above about attending a networking event with a clearly defined goal? During a networking event, accomplish what you set out to do beforehand by interacting with the contacts you set out to meet. You may event walk away with a few additional connections who joined in on the conversation.
Plan to exchange business cards with the people you connect with. This information will be helpful for any follow-up actions at a later time.
After a Networking Event
Reconnect with your new contacts through LinkedIn. Send a message with your request so that it captures the talking points of your prior conversation. With your expanded contact network, you now have a bigger professional audience to communicate with.
Remember, networking is about relationship building and building relationships takes time and work. For additional information, please visit the Career Planning & Development Center’s website.
John Link is the Assistant Director in the Webster University Career Planning & Development Center.