Attending a networking event where you don’t know anyone can rank right up there with a root canal, but it doesn't have to painful, or even uncomfortable, if you know how to manage the situation.
Related:5 Ways To Break The Ice At Networking Events
One of the best ways to prepare for a networking event is to find out as much information as possible. Where is the event being held? Who will be in attendance? What’s the dress code? Try to obtain any other details the organizers might be able to provide. You want to make sure you’re confident when you arrive, so being prepared helps assuage those last minute anxieties.
In some cases, you can find out the type of people who will be in attendance. For example, if you’re going to a networking event sponsored by a trade group or association, you can probably get a list of their member organizations who may be attending the event. Do a little research on the companies that may be of interest to you. When you meet people from those companies, they’ll be impressed you know a little about their organizations.
Take Business Cards And Resumes
If you’re looking for a new job and/or currently unemployed, consider having business cards made with your contact information, as well as information on the job you’re seeking. You can order some very inexpensive, but professional looking, cards from several online printing services. It also helps to have some copies of your resume on hand in case someone asks.
Treat The Event As If It’s A Series Of Several Mini-Interviews
Attending networking events may or may not lead to an immediate job offer, but by expanding your network, you’ll be exposed to more opportunities in the future.
Stand Near The Entrance Door To The Event
While it may sound silly, standing near the entrance gives you access to new people who are just arriving. Other people are also nervous when they first go into a room of people they don’t know. A friendly smile goes a long way and it might be all you need to start a conversation with someone. Another added benefit is people have a greater tendency to remember the first and last people they meet.
Have A Goal
If you plan to attend a networking event for one hour, try to make three to five solid contacts. The conversation is not always going to be stellar with every person you meet. Know when to say “it was nice meeting you” and move on. If you become glued to the first person you started talking to, the event won’t be as successful for you as it could be.
Enjoy The Experience
Networking events may put you out of your normal comfort zone, but they can be very beneficial. By attending solo, you’re forced to meet new people. You never know who’s going to be there. There might be business owners, recruiters, or other people that can help you with your current career path or be resources for you in the future.
This post was originally published on an earlier date.
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