Updated: Jun 26
Because networking is primarily a social event, some people feel they just aren’t cut out for it. If you find yourself in this position of dreading your next networking opportunity, fear no more. Preparing yourself for the event ahead of time is key. Here are a few basic steps you can take to make your next networking event more tolerable.
Research who’s attending. If you can get a list of who’s attending the event, you’ll be miles ahead of your competition. Knowing who will be there allows you to research their background and have things ready to talk about. You can also make lists of the people you know you want to meet before you go. If you really want to be proactive, you can even reach out to them before the event and let them know you’re looking forward to meeting them.
Introduce yourself to others. A very real fear of networking events is you’ll be left standing by yourself with no one to talk to. Take charge of this situation by making yourself comfortable with introducing yourself. To make this easier, wear your name tag where it’s easily visible and maybe write something about yourself on the tag, such as where you work or the job you’re looking for. If you’re seated at a table, make a point of introducing yourself to each member of the table and shake hands if it’s appropriate.
Work on what to say. Preparation is again important in knowing what to say at a networking event. Sure, having a quick elevator pitch comes in handy (where you quickly tell people about yourself and what you’re looking for), but other times, a simple hello and a genuine smile goes far. Have a few questions prepared you can ask in any situation, such as, “So, why did you decide to attend tonight?” or “That speaker was really intriguing, what do you think?” Simply working on the ability to small talk drives many conversations at a networking event.
While networking events don’t always start out fun, you can certainly work on making them that way. Many times, they are a necessary part of finding a new job, so find things you can enjoy about them such as making one new acquaintance you can meet for coffee. When it’s time for the event, arrive early, and take a friend if you can for support. The less pressure you put on yourself the better, and others can sense this which will draw people to you.