You will find that many recruiters, career guidance counsellors, even your friends and family say that there is power in a strong network. You might have even heard of others, reaching out to their network for advice etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree, I just know that for all the recommendations you get about networking, no one ever really boils it down to the nitty-gritty, i.e.
‘’How do I create my own network?’’ or even, ‘’How do I Network?’’
Well, having hosted many networking events in my time here with Careertrotter, I am happy to say that I am somewhat of an expert in this area and more than happy to share the knowledge on how to network as well how to build your own network in 9 top tips.
Go in with a Goal
What is it you hope to get out of going to the networking event? Do you want to build your network, prob and investigate for a new job? or simply test the waters to see what is out there for you?
Dress to Impress
Never underestimate the power of a fresh shirt, black shoes and face not smothered in hair.
When it comes to a Networking Event - try to think of it as an informal setting for an interview, you need to prepare and of course, you want to have a competitive edge to the other attendee's. Dressing to impress, is a great way to make a strong first impression and to catch the eye of a recruiter, a possible connection and more. So when in doubt - Suit Up!
It's a known fact, we are always that little bit braver when we have back up or an audience. There is no problem is ''Buddying Up'' when going to a networking event. You can hype each other up, you will have someone to talk to instead of sitting in that horrible silence and you will certainly feel more at ease.
Never Underestimate a Smile
Our own body does a lot of the talking without us realising, in fact, 93% of communication is non-verbal.
As we all know, going to networking events can make some nervous (especially the wallflowers like me) so our body language might be telling others that we don't want to be approached. However, I found that a small smile does a world of good. In our last networking event, I focussed on my smile and people engaged with me much more than I expected. I believe this is a small bot amazing tip to give you. Never underestimate the power of your pearly whites (your teeth).
My personal favourite is the introduction - how do I introduce myself to a random stranger?
Well, there are many ways you can do this:
-You can be courteous and polite - Hello, how are you? My name is [insert name here].
- You can dive straight in - How are you? I hear you have jobs in Sales, talk to me (this is a little cheeky but sometimes it works)
Then there is my personal favourite because when I get nervous I try to be funny. As you will see in the image below.
Find a Genuine Connection
Finding a connection can be a tricky one, but we don't know until we try right? Take a trick out of the Irish people's book with their love of small talk (chit-chat). Bring up the weather, the local sports win, how good the food is at the event and see if they're something you can connect with.
For me it was my shoes that I connected with someone over, they saw what I was wearing (not so professional Converse) and they said how much they loved them but how hard it is to break them in so that they are comfortable for the rest of time.
Do Your Homework
Once you know who is going to be there, whether it be the company, the recruiter from a specific organisation or another attendee (depends on the goal you go in with) you need to do your homework and research.
Just like you would when it comes preparing for an interview.
Doing this will help you with an introduction, finding a genuine connection and diving straight into adding them to your network.
Connect & Follow Up
Follow up is crucial, you have done the groundwork at the networking event, now its time to cash in the hard work to gain a genuine connection. It's up to you how you want to connect and follow up.
You can try via E-mail, LinkedIn, Facebook or even phone (depending on how well you got on in the networking event). Whether you wish to ask for advice, to be referred for a job, or simply want to keep the connection alive, connecting and following up after the event is vital to maintain your professional network.
There you have it, my top 9 Networking event tips, try them out, tweak them more towards your sense of style but do give it a genuine go. You will be pleasantly surprised and how well these simple tips work out for you.