Networking is the most effective way that people find jobs. So even though it might be difficult, this is a vital skill that needs to be developed.
If you are nervous about networking, don’t worry—you are not alone! Many people are nervous when attending networking events, so remember this when you go:
- Dress appropriately: Make sure your attire is appropriate for the event. Typically this means business professional (or business casual if the event is more laid back).
- Be yourself: People connect with authenticity, so try to relax and just be yourself. Be sure to have practiced your elevator pitch prior to the event.
- Do your homework: Many events will send out the guest list before the day of the event. If they do, review the attendees and develop a list of target contacts that you would like to speak to. Researching these contacts can help you come up with things to talk about at the event.
- Come up with questions to ask: An easy question to ask is “what brought you to this event today?” This will help start the conversation and is also a good opportunity to learn more about the other person. Do research before the event on relevant news, as this is also a good topic to bring up.
- Practice: Networking is a skill that needs to be developed, so practice as much as possible. One way to do this is to strike up conversations with people at a coffee shop or grocery store to practice small talk. Also, attend as many networking events as possible—the more you network, the more comfortable you will be with it.
- Collect contact information: When you are done speaking with someone, ask for a business card. After you talk to the person it is helpful to write a few notes on the back of the card so you can remember who they are and can personalize your follow-up note!