You’ve built your brand, memorized your elevator pitch and ordered a new stack of business cards. By all means, you’re ready to network!
But are you really?
Networking is a lot more than standing around a room, handing out business cards. It’s about making a quick but memorable impact and developing long-lasting connections with new people and companies. So here are a few quick and easy networking tips that’ll help you make a great first impression and mutually beneficial connections.
Do your research! Sure, you know everything there is to know about your company, your brand and your qualifications, but do you know anything about any of the other attendees before you’ve actually met them? You should!
If you’re attending a planned networking event, be sure to do some detective work. Try to find out who’ll be attending the event, and what it is that they do. Create a list of guests that you’d like to speak to based on shared careers, interests or missions.
You should have your elevator pitch ingrained in your brain to the point that it doesn’t sound rehearsed. Know what it is that you do, how you do it, and why it is that you and your work are valuable. Make sure you deliver this information in a conversational manner. No one wants to feel like they’re being pitched to–even at a networking event. Be genuine. Be yourself!
Some networking events provide alcohol, which is can be nice. However, beware of how much you drink. Remember, a professional function is not the time to be the life of the party. You’re there to schmooze, not to booze. Alcohol dulls your ability to think quickly on your feet, make eye contact or even speak clearly–all skills that you need to make a great first impression. So save the drinks for after the event.
Be Dressed to Impress
Networking events generally take place after work, so most people will be dressed in business or business-casual wear. However, if you usually dress to blend in with your office environment, a networking event may be a great opportunity for you to dress to stand out–but just a bit. Have fun with business wear by mixing up bright blazers with neutral dresses, or bold dresses with a neutral blazer. If bold, bright clothing are a bit much for you, try to express your individual style via your accessories. Swap out your business flats for a nice pair of shoes, or wear a ring, necklace or pair of earrings that’ll make a statement. That being said, you should be aware of exactly what statement your clothes are making. Too tight, too short or a too low necklines will distract from the charisma, whit and business acumen you’re trying to display. At the end of the day, you want people to notice you and remember your charm, not your outfit.
Now that you’ve met a lot of new and interesting people, it’s time for you to follow up with them. Sending a quick email expressing how nice it was to meet them and reiterating something that you spoke about is a great way to stay relevant and memorable. It also helps to stay connected beyond email. Connect via LinkedIn, a Facebook group or the ELLA Leadership Network. These social media platforms allow your new contacts to see what you’re up to on a regular basis, without you having to reach out to them. These few extra steps will help you stand out among the many people your new contacts connected with at the event.
So there you go: a few quick networking tips to help you make a quick and lasting impression during your next networking event.
Did we leave anything out? Share your networking tips in the comment section below!