Attending networking events can be crucial to building relationships, finding sources for referrals and meeting new people. The primary goal of networking is not just to meet every person in the room, but also to make lasting impressions and walk away with more than a business card.
Here are five tips to make the most out of a networking event.
1. Set goals
Determine specifically why and what you want to take away from attending an event. Whether it’s to gain insider market knowledge or to seek out referrals, setting goals can keep you focused on getting what you want from the experience.
2. Arrive early
Some networking events send out attendance sheets ahead of time so you can make note of people you are interested in approaching. Unfortunately, this is not the case with all events. To reap all the benefits of knowing who is in the room before speaking to them, arrive to the event earlier than the scheduled time.
3. Go with someone who knows other people in the room
It might be easier to make connections with people if there was someone who can introduce you to others. The added benefit of being introduced to someone is leaving the impression that you are well connected with others. You might also feel more confident with the extra support from a friend.
4. Work the room
You might find that people tend to clump together into small groups at networking events. To figure out where you want to start engaging with people, take a quick survey of the room. Find a group of people who seem open and friendly. Without being rude, introduce yourself to the group and ask what they are talking about. Contribute to the conversation when an opportunity presents itself.
5. Prepare what you want to say
It can be intimidating to speak articulately in a loud room full of new people. Preparing what you want to say to people ahead of time can help ease the pressure. If possible, do your research before approaching the people you want to speak to. Preparation can allow you to feel more confident when you are speaking and help you leave a lasting impression.