Networking events can be a bit overwhelming, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, they can feel like a waste of time. Follow these 5 tips in order to get the best return on investment at a networking event.
Look over the list of attendees if possible. If a name strikes your eye, Cydcor recommends checking out their LinkedIn profile, or other social media or website and find out a little more about him or her. It’s easier to strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met if you come prepared and can ask them specific questions about their time working at Apple or if they enjoy being a sales manager.
Make sure you have several business cards on you to hand out when you meet people that you’d like to chat with again. You can even go higher-tech and use apps like Bump to share contact information. Also remember to bring pens and a small notebook or tablet; they can be helpful if you need to take notes or jot down a piece of advice.
Come Prepared with Goals
What are you hoping to get out of the event and learn from the people you meet? Whatever it is, make sure you figure this out before you attend the event – that way you’ll know what to bring up and the type of people to talk to. Since some networking events cost money, only attend the ones that will help you reach your goal.
Show Up On Time
Unless the event is a “come as you please” event, don’t be the one that shows up late. Chances are that if you are going to an event at a place you have never been before, it is going to take longer than Google Maps estimates. Look at the route beforehand, and give yourself an extra 10-15 minutes to find the place—and parking.
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Don’t Throw Yourself at Everyone
No one likes the person who talks with everyone in the room for two minutes, gives them their contact information, and heads to the next person. Networking is about making real connections; it’s not a contest to see who can pass out the most business cards. If you don’t think someone will be a good connection, you don’t have to give him or her your card. On the other hand, take your time talking and getting to know people that could become valuable connections. You don’t need to spend a half hour chatting with someone, but learn a little more about the people you talk to than just his or her job title.
This is by far the most important tip for networking. Who cares if you dressed well and came prepared – if you don’t follow up, that relationship means nothing. Connect on LinkedIn or send a quick coffee invite. Relationships take time to cultivate so make the most out of what you started.