Networking is one of the most important things you can do to advance your career and expand your connections. For some, standing around, schmoozing with strangers is a walk in the park and for others, it's overwhelming and exhausting. Regardless of how you feel about it, you’re going to have to network at some point in your business career so here are 5 simple tips to get the most out of it.
- Get Business Cards. Don’t have a job that gives you cards? No problem. Order your own that include your contact information such as your email address, LinkedIn URL and phone number. This way, when someone gives you their business card, you have something to give them in return- it’s common courtesy to exchange rather than take just take a card.
- Have an Elevator Pitch. When you’re at an event, you’re going to have limited time with the people you meet. Prepare a 30 second introduction about yourself to help break the ice and introduce yourself. An elevator pitch should include brief information on who you are, what you're doing and why you want to talk to whomever you’re speaking with.
- Remember, it’s a two way street. People love to talk about themselves. Don’t forget to ask about what someone does or what their story is when first meeting. It can help make them more open to asking about who you are and how they can help you.
- Be Friendly. Don’t stand around and wait for people to come to you. Sure, it can be nerve wracking walking up to someone at a networking event but chances are everyone feels the same way. Don’t be afraid to walk up to a group of people and politely join a conversation or introduce yourself.
- Follow Up. Did you find someone you think could be an amazing mentor? Great. Send them a LinkedIn invitation and a brief email introducing yourself again. It’s important to create meaningful contact with people whom you click with while networking. Creating a strong network of professionals will help you grow and advance your career no matter what field you’re in.
So there you have it, 5 tips to make the most out of networking events. Dont’ forget that everyone’s in the same boat in these situations and chances are they feel just like you do. Be friendly, make meaningful conversation and be interested in others and soon you’ll have a strong network of contacts to back you up and get you ahead.t