Networking 101

By: John Lee

Networking events­­­– the ultimate way for a college student, business owner or transitioning employee to meet likeminded individuals who want to mutually succeed with one another. People you meet here may eventually help you land that dream internship, job or business partner. It sounds great in theory, but can easily turn into a series of awkward conversations and unsuccessful approaches. These events are all about balance, timing and meeting people past the surface level. So, to help you achieve these goals, here are a few tips and things to bring when attending networking events to make sure you are successful.

  • Business Cards– Business card can be the disadvantage and advantage during a networking event. They are a great way for you to keep in contact with whoever you are talking to, but it’s important for you not to get carried away. It can be easy to just pass out your business cards like candy, but you should be in the mindset of quality over quantity. It’s a better strategy to focus on a select few people and really connect with these people so they have a lasting impression. Business cards are useless if they don’t remember who gave it to them. A good rule of thumb to follow is, if you can’t ask for their business card comfortably, don’t give them yours.
  • Personal Hygiene/ Appearance- Simple, no one wants to talk to someone who has bad breath or looks unprofessional. Make sure that you dress appropriately for whatever event you are going to and get that haircut that is long overdue. Studies show that it only takes a couple of seconds for someone to make a first impression, so make it a good one. You are here to show the best part of yourself, make sure you represent that physically as well.
  • Be Confident- Confidence is key during these events. You are basically selling your skills and what you have to offer to other people. Being confident in yourself will take you that extra mile. Would you buy a product from a salesman when they themselves don’t believe in the product? Believe and be confidence in what you have to offer.
  • Be Social- Networking events at their very core are basically just professional social events. Standing in the corner hoping someone will come talk to you is not the best way to meet people. Yes, of course its nerve wracking going up to someone you don’t know, but if you really think about it, it’s why they’re there. If they did not want to be bothered, they would not have come to the event. So, get your social on, and attack the bull by the horns. A simple hello can open a world of opportunities.
  • Be Respectful- Respect goes a long way. Interrupting someone mid-sentence to introduce yourself and give them your business card certainly will not warrant a solid connection. Go with the flow of the conversation and introduce yourself naturally when there is a break. Know peoples boundaries and understand that sometimes you’re not always going to be able to control the conversation.

Ultimately, networking events in general are difficult situations, but can be easier with these tips and a little practice. Next time you find yourself at an event, use these tips to maximize your potential and achieve your goals, whatever they may be.

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