If you are wondering how to make the most of the professional networking event you are about to attend in a few weeks, the following tips can help you become more effective.
The very first step of ensuring that your trip to a professional networking event is successful is to prepare yourself for it around a week prior to the event. Find out who is attending the event. Which companies are being represented? What is the ratio of employers and those who are searching for jobs? How many CEOs and upper management professionals are expected? How long is the event expected to last?
Also, you may contact these people a week or so prior to the event. Ask them questions you think are appropriate – these questions may or may not be related to the upcoming event. Once you reach the venue, you will already know people there and this will make it easier for you to introduce yourself to people you want to talk to. This will give you an edge over those who don’t know anyone and will help you build networks faster and more easily.
You have to set certain things in order before leaving for the event. First comes clothing. The research you’ve done about the people attending the event and other details will help you decide the level of formality your attire must exhibit. When in doubt, it is preferable to be on the formal side than casual.
Carry items such as notepads, pens or electronic devices that will help you note down points between or after conversations with important people. Receptions at events often give out material to be used by the attendees, but they can’t be trusted so keep your own stuff.
The ability of starting a conversation comes very naturally to some people while others have to go through quite a struggle (much of it internal). If you consider yourself part of the former category, you must go alone to a professional networking event. Your company would do nothing but become an excuse for you to not interact with people at certain times. However, if you are part of the latter category, it would be better for you to take someone with you who gives you company at the event in a way that attracts more people to talk to you. People prefer talking to someone who they think is social rather than someone whose sociability they have no idea about.
Creativity is one value that is always appreciated.
Use the nametags given out to you at the reception in a way that attracts positive attention. Present creative ideas to get people you talk to. Give them ideas related to whatever they are up to. This will show how you can be of use to them. However, beware of appearing as too pushy. If creativity doesn’t come to you naturally, converse in a conventional way.
Follow Up Faithfully
If you fail to follow up with the people you met at the event, consider all your efforts washed down the drain. Since you are the one in need of contacts, you must consistently make an effort to keep in touch with those who you think are relevant to whatever you are looking for.
Paul Cook writes for Masters in Accounting, a career resource for individuals interested in getting started in the accounting industry.