Networking events are an essential part of any job search and career management in general. Some people are naturals at navigating these events and come out with five great leads and maybe a new poker group. But for others, these functions come with lots of anxiety and are full of awkward moments and monotonous small talk.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or new to the networking game, here are 10 ways to make the most of these events.
- Find someone new – When you arrive at a networking event, avoid gravitating to people you know. That’s the easy way out and you will never leave that comfort zone. You should initially thank the host and then immediately find someone new to introduce yourself to. This will help keep you in the right frame of mind as to why you came.
- Have business cards ready – Keep your business cards in the breast pocket of your coat, a shirt pocket, or in an outside pocket of your purse so they are easy to access and in good condition.
- Use first names – Remembering first names is important. During the course of a conversation at a networking event, use the other person’s first name two or three times. It will help you to remember it when the discussion is over and make you memorable to the others.
- Ask questions – Listen more than you talk. Meaning, ask questions about those you meet rather than sharing about yourself. It’s amazing how much you’ll learn and be remembered.
- Take notes – After you meet someone for the first time, use the back of their business card to jot a note about something you learned from the conversation and the date and place you met them. Recording the information will give you something to talk to them about the next time you see them.
- Show an interest in others – After the person has shared something with you, ask them another question about what they just said. This shows that you are engaged in the conversation and that you care.
- Shake hands – Always keep one hand free to allow yourself to shake hands with people. This means that you shouldn’t eat and drink at the same time. Remember, you’re there to network, not eat a full-course meal.
- Introduce people – As a way of demonstrating your networking skills, introduce each new person you meet to at least one other person. Everyone appreciates such an effort.
- Don’t barge in – Never try to barge into a group of four or more people. Come alongside the group, but do not attempt to enter into the discussion until you’ve made eye contact with everyone and a minimum of two other people in the group have said something.
- Follow-up soon – Following up in a timely manner is crucial. When you meet someone for the first time, you have 48 hours to follow up with them before they will completely forget about meeting you.\
Try these tips at a Kelley Direct networking event near you this Fall. These events give prospective students the opportunity to meet faculty, staff and online MBA and MS students who live and work nearby. The events are also a great way for students to connect with each other and with alumni of our program in person. View the full schedule and RSVP.
About the Author
In addition to a private career and executive coaching practice, Mike Schmeckebier serves as the Associate Director of Graduate Career Services for the top-ranked Kelley Direct online MBA program. Additionally, he provides career and professional coaching services to high potential employees from Fortune 500 companies such as Cummins, Ingersoll-Rand, and John Deere who are currently enrolled in the Kelley School’s Executive MBA program.
Mike has also worked in career services at top-ranked large and small colleges and was the senior recruiter for a national recruiting firm. His teaching experience includes college and graduate level courses on career development and job search strategies, as well as, facilitating countless workshops on resume writing, interview skills & leadership.