Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Networking 101 - At the Event

This is the next installment in our networking tips series.  If you missed the first installment, you can access it by clicking here.

You've done all of the things we talked about before the event.  You found an event that interests you, prepared an introduction, done your research,set a goal for yourself, and have a positive attitude about the event.  

Now what?  

GO TO THE EVENT!  Once you are there, keep the following things in mind:

  • Pay attention:  If there is a lecture, seminar, or other presentation portion of the event, pay attention to it.  This will enable you to start a conversation or contribute to the conversation if a point made during the presentation comes up when you are meeting people afterwards.  

  • Take the Initiative:  You are there to meet people so take the initiative and talk to them.  Don't stand in one place the entire time, but rather walk around.  If you see someone by themselves, use your practiced introduction and strike up a conversation.  It is also easier to join a conversation between three or more people, than one where only two people are talking to each other.

  • Use Open-Ended Questions:  Your goal is to learn as much information about the person as you can.  The easiest way to do this is to ask open-ended questions that require more than a one word answer.  Also, most people like to talk about themselves and are almost always willing to provide information.

  • Don't Hover by the Food or the Bar:  Again, the purpose of attending these events is to gather information and meet people.  You cannot do that by spending your time eating the free food or having free drinks.  Get some food or a drink (preferably non-alcoholic) so that you blend in and have something in your hands to occupy them.  But then concentrate on what you are there to do, which is to make connections.

  • Leave on a High Note:  Do not feel obligated to speak with one person the entire night.  Have an exit strategy ready that you can utilize before the conversation dies down.  If you made a connection, ask for a business card so that you can follow up with them in the future.   Always express gratitude to the person for speaking with you.

  • DO NOT HAND OUT YOUR RESUME!!  Need I say more.

Stay tuned for the last installment in this series on what to do after attending a networking event to further develop the relationships with the connections you made!