How to Network at an Event

There’s an art to good networking, especially in a social setting. Some of us have a natural curiosity and enjoy the opportunity to meet new people, while others view it with a sense of dread, a necessary but tedious chore. However you look at it, there are good ways to network and not-so-good ways.

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Networking is about meeting people, but with a purpose. You are seeking something from the other person, but it is important to remember that networking is about giving as well as getting. The relationship needs to be mutually beneficial if it is to work.

Here are some tips on how to do it.

  1. Have a plan

You have to take some care in choosing the events you want to attend. Consider which types of events you feel most comfortable at, how they are organized, the time of day they are held, and the location. You need to also consider who it is you want to meet and what events they are likely to attend.

Decide what you want to accomplish at the event. For example, you decide to talk at least four people and follow up with one or two of them.

If you receive a list before the event of the people who will be attending, you can determine who you would like to meet and do a little background research on them.

  1. Greetings

You also need to plan what you’ll say when you approach someone, to try and make it as engaging as possible. Opening with your name and job title is not the best kind of greeting. To make it more interesting, say your name, but make sure you ask questions about your new acquaintance rather than about yourself.

It may help to arrive at the event a little early because there will likely be fewer people at that point, making it easier to join a group or make an introduction. But it is important to remember that you shouldn’t immediately jump into work related topics, but make an effort to establish a rapport first, making small talk and discussing topics of interest to the other person.

Even if you have had a bad day, put it behind you and be sure you take a positive, upbeat attitude into the event. No one wants to hear about your troubles. Smile.

What Not to Do

  • Pile food on a plate.

Avoid immediately making a beeline for the appetizers and stocking up. Grab a drink and circulate first. It is very awkward trying to schmooze while holding a plate of food and trying to eat. Also, if you wait for food, going to get it will give you an excuse to end a conversation.

  • Push into a group.

Don’t try to force your way into a conversation. Look at the signals. If you see a group that is engaged in earnest conversation, it is not likely they will be pleased if you insert yourself and ask what they are talking about. If, on the other hand, you see a smaller group talking casually, this may be a better opportunity to approach and introduce yourself.

  • Looking impatient.

Even if you think the person talking to you is a crashing bore, you need to look interested. Even if the person talking to you doesn’t notice your boredom or impatience, others may, and that will not make a good impression.

  • Forget business cards.

There really is no excuse for this. You are there to make connections, and not having business cards won’t help.

  • Talking too much.

Again, you are there to make connections and establish a rapport with others. You cannot do this if you are dominating the conversation. Do more listening than talking, showing an interest in what the other person has to say.

If you’re looking for new job opportunities, contact Helpmates. Take a look at our latest job openings and either apply for those that interest you or contact the branch nearest you for an interview.

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