If you’ve ever attended a networking event, you already know it can tend to feel a lot like an interview or first date.
You’re there to make a good first impression, but worry about approaching others, your appearance and what to talk about. At large conferences and meetings, the sheer amount of people at the event alone can be overwhelming. However, with the right preparation and mindset, it is possible to find yourself building a professional network. Here are some tips to help you get started on the right path.
Set goals for the event. Committing to speak to a specific number of people can help you feel accomplished at the event’s conclusion. Taking that a step further to develop a certain number of meaningful connections is also a good goal to set. Also be sure to go in with a positive, open mindset. Going in thinking, “This will never work for me,” or “I won’t get any good leads out of this” will definitely set you up for a negative experience.
Responding thoughtfully to questions or challenges, offering help and offering insights will help to make your connection more memorable. Include unique stories or personal experiences to make the moment even more significant, and be sure to pay attention to the person you’re speaking to instead of looking around for other prospects.
Build long-lasting connections
Networking can seem like a calculated game of handing out business cards for some. Instead, establish a few strong connections that you’re confident you can follow up with. It’s quality over quantity in the networking arena.
Your networking follow-ups should be created to elicit a response. Keep your messaging short, and offer your connection a clear next step. Maybe you offer to help with a specific challenge or to connect them to someone who can. Or maybe you want to continue a conversation or get to know them better.
Much like dating, becoming successful at networking involves embracing patience and the process. It’s perfectly normal for some connections to not turn out as well as you’d hoped. With time and experience, your professional relationships will grow.
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