Think back to the last networking event you attended. Which best describes you?
- I came with a few friends and spent most of the time chatting with them about our jobs and personal lives.
- I passed out as many business cards as possible and hoped someone would contact me about a job opportunity.
- I was nervous I wouldn’t have anything interesting to say, so I wandered around the buffet before leaving early.
- I engaged in meaningful discussions with a range of professionals and walked away with new relationships that I’m continuing to develop today.
Unless you answered D, you are probably networking without a clear strategy in mind. Instead, show up to your next event with a solid plan for networking with purpose. Whether you're searching for a new job or looking to establish a connection with an influencer in your field, check out our tips below to make your next networking opportunity a more meaningful experience.
Try out your new strategy with your fellow NYWICI members at "Sip, Shop, Schmooze" at Lord and Taylor, an evening of networking, shopping and festive cocktail fare. Taking place on Dec. 11, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., the evening will feature opportunities for connecting, a discount for shopping and conversations with some of the smartest women in the communications industry.
Plan some talking points
Come prepared with a few talking points ready, especially if you’re nervous to network. This doesn’t have to be an elevator pitch to sell yourself, but knowing what you'd like to discuss about your career or field will help put you at ease to ask meaningful questions and strike up interesting conversations. If there’s a theme to the event, make sure to have your own point of view that you can add to the discussion.
Seek out a range of professionals
Meeting people at your career level is a great chance to talk about shared challenges, but make it a goal to speak with a more diverse group. Strike up a conversation with a more senior leader to ask big-picture questions about your field and to learn how they made it to their level. Get to know professionals in different industries for a fresh perspective on career paths you might not have considered.
Focus on what you can give, not what you want to get
Even if you’re in the midst of a job hunt, look for ways to offer your own help and connections to the people you meet. Professionals will be more interested in speaking with you if they know you’re not there only for personal gain — and they could be more willing to help you in the future.
Talk about more than just work
Talking about your current job, company and industry is a given. But don't limit your conversations to work-related topics. Asking about outside interests and mentioning your own hobbies can lead to more personal connections and make your discussions more memorable.
Follow up with new connections after the event
A day or two after the event, make sure to connect with those you met on LinkedIn with a personalized message. But also consider using Twitter and other forms of communication to continue building your relationships. Stay in touch by retweeting your connections, sharing interesting articles and offering to make your own introductions when the time is right.
Photo: Copyright Maryanne Russell