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.

Embracing the Up, Backwards and Sideways Career

Content

No one’s career moves straight up. Most successful people see their share of failure and even simple treading water (no movement up or down). Just a few examples of people who failed on their way up:

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  • Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
  • The University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts rejected Steven Spielberg several times.
  • The first book Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) wrote was rejected by 27 publishers.

Yet putting aside these famous folks’ failures, all of us should know: especially today, careers almost never move ever upward and/or always in a straight line. There will be detours, failures, false starts and mistakes.

And understanding this is a very good thing. After all, think about the possibilities:

  • Embracing the fact that a non-linear career path means you won’t be blinded – and trapped by – the idea that you must always move up. This hyper focus on an ever-upward trajectory can blind you to the many other opportunities for growth that taking a different path can give you.
  • Failing at something means you get to build your resilience muscles: dusting yourself off and standing back up proves to yourself that a) you can stand back up, b) that it gets easier each time and c) you’ve undoubtedly learned a ton because of the failure. In other words, you’ll know at a deep personal level that the old saying is true: those who experience and then overcome difficulty are stronger and better for it!
  • If you you’re willing to take risks, knowing that failure often is the absolute best teacher available when it comes to life and careers can transform the risky move easier to make.
  • You may find that you actually enjoy a different industry more than the one on which you had your sights set.
  • Embracing a squiggly career trajectory (up, down and sideways) means you’ll let yourself do the things that interest you, thus helping you learn what you don’t want to do. This can be as important as learning what you do want to do.
  • What’s more, you’ll understand that you don’t always need to continue doing something when it’s not working. For example, if you find that the career you just knew would make you happy doesn’t actually do so, you can unashamedly look into a new path.
  • You may actually find that promotions, higher pay and more responsibility aren’t the be-all and end-all for you. You may find that your definition of success instead entails spending more time with family and friends rather and/or creating art and/or volunteering for a cause in which you believe than working 60+ hours a week for the glamour (and almost certain stress) of being a person of importance in your field of work. (Or you may find the opposite: you discover that you want to be the boss!)

Just remember, careers today rarely move up and up and up. Embrace the failures. Look for opportunities to move sideways. Consider jobs you never have before.

And think about registering with a staffing agency such as Helpmates. Why? Because if you’re at all interested in exploring different career paths or industries, working for a firm such as ours allows you to “try on” different industries and positions without committing to any. Then, if you do find a position or industry you enjoy, there’s a good chance it can become permanent: more than one-third of people working on assignment received an offer of regular employment with the staffing company’s client.

To learn more about the many career-exploring opportunities we offer, contact the Helpmates branch office nearest you.

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