(Photo credit: Elliottng)
Networking is a great way to meet new people in the field that you want to work in. You can learn more about the companies and you have an opportunity to put yourself in the forefront of employers minds before you apply for a job (or after). As you know, your network is more likely to help you find a job than the want ads so you need to get out there and network.
Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone though so here are 5 tips that can help you find success at networking events:
1. Plan ahead
See if you can find out what companies are going to be at the event and who is going to be representing those companies. Do some research and see what you can find out about them. Find their LinkedIn account. Check to see if they have been published online. See if they have been interviewed in any news articles. The more you know about the companies and their representatives the more you will be prepared to hold an intelligent conversation.
You can also get prepared by making sure you have business cards ready and resumes that you can hand out if the opportunity arises.
2. Use your business cards
Don’t have business cards yet? Get them! A good business card is an absolute must for networking. How else are they going to be able to contact you later?
In the past, business cards have contained things like your address and phone number and your position in a company. But since you likely don’t have a company that you work at that last point is not applicable. That stuff is boring anyway. Instead, include your social networks - especially LinkedIn.
Make sure to collect business cards too, and as soon as you get home, organize them and take some notes on what you talked about with each person. If their business card has a web site or a LinkedIn profile, look it up. If there is a way of contacting that person, do so within 24 hours of the networking event so that they will remember you. It is also a good way to carry on the conversation that you started at the event.
3. Present value
People need to know why they should connect with you so make sure that the first few words that you utter to someone you meet at a networking event give them a reason to get to know you more. Talk about something current in your field to show that you are up to date with what is going on. If you’ve done your research you might be able to draw attention to a shared interest. For example, if you know that the company you work for does a lot of work with a certain charity and you happen to feel the same (don’t lie about it) you can mention that right away. The more value your present to the person you are speaking to, the more likely they are to remember you when they are hiring.
4. Don’t be a technological savant
Knowing how to use technology - especially the Internet and social media - can be very valuable. If you don’t even have a LinkedIn account how are you going to connect with those that do after the event? If you don’t know how to use the Internet, how are you going to do the research?
You can even have an electronic business card that makes sharing information even easier!
5. It’s OK to put your own motives aside
Sometimes one of the best things you can do is put your own motives aside when you are connecting with others. Either during or after the event you might know someone that should meet someone you are talking to. You might be able to help others out along the way and employers like to know that you are not completely focused on yourself all the time.