Tips for Navigating Networking Events Like a Pro

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Entering the workforce can seem intimidating, especially when you keep hearing that it’s “all about the connections.” So how do you build those connections as a young adult or a new professional? Attending networking events can be a good first step. From industry-specific events to networking happy hours for young professionals, these are great places to make connections and meet mentors to help advance (or jumpstart!) your career.

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What is a networking event?

A networking event is a gathering specifically designed to bring together professionals from a specific field, industry or age group to build business relationships and stay on top of the latest news and trends.

There are different types of networking events, which means you have the freedom to choose which type of event you would be most comfortable attending. For example, if you prefer a casual setting, a happy hour event might be the right choice. If you’re excited about exchanging ideas, then an event with roundtable discussions might be for you. If your goal is to meet others in your field and expand your industry knowledge, an industry-specific event may be what you’re looking for.

benefits of networking

Networking has many benefits, and what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. If you’re looking for personal growth, networking events can provide you with opportunities to exchange ideas with others in your field, meet people who can teach you new skills, and boost your confidence. can help increase.

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new job opportunities

Networking can also help you find new job opportunities. Networking events are popular with people who are looking for work and are hoping to connect with someone who is looking to get hired. Getting to know a potential employer at an event will also help you decide whether that company might be a good fit for you in a setting different from a formal interview.

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Membership

One of the biggest benefits of networking is the mentorship you can get. If you’re new to a field or workforce, meeting someone you connect with who can provide guidance and advice will be invaluable.

career development

Networking events are opportunities to learn, grow and advance your career. The career growth that comes from networking events is just as important as the personal connections you make. You can find out about opportunities for seminars, retreats or other programs that help you develop skills you might not have gotten in the office.

How to prepare for a networking event

Before you go to a networking event, there are a few things you should do to prepare. The first is to set goals. Try and come up with some of the outcomes you’re hoping for, such as meeting a new person, learning a new industry trend, or finding a job. This will help you navigate networking events with a purpose. You’ll also want to make sure that any public, professional profiles you have are up to date, including your website.

You’ll probably want to plan your outfit in advance so you’re not scrambling to throw together a wrinkled shirt or stained blazer at the last minute. Choose a professional outfit that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

The night before your networking event, be sure to keep business cards in your wallet or purse. If you are new to your professional career, you may want to print some yourself with your contact information. Bring more than you think you’ll need to help avoid the “I just gave my last!” Moment. If your budget is tight, try a digital business card instead!

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How to Navigate a Networking Event

Once you actually get there, you may need some tips on how to navigate a networking event. To start, you may want to practice an effective introduction. When you meet someone, you want to give them a quick, firm handshake and a friendly smile. Don’t forget to listen to them when you tell them your first and last name, and try to use it throughout your conversation so that it remains.

Another piece of advice is to listen first. When you’re chatting with someone, allow them to provide information or answer questions before you walk in. That way, when it’s time for you to speak, you’ll know they’re listening to you instead of thinking about what they’re going to say.

Although networking is a great opportunity to find job opportunities, make sure you don’t get so caught up in that aspect that you forget to show people you are genuinely interested. Keep a few questions in your back pocket to ask people, such as what their role is, how they like working for their company, or how they got started in the field.

You will probably want to write notes throughout the event. This will help you keep the conversation straight so that you can connect with the people who interest you the most. Keep a pen on you so after meeting someone you can jot down some highlights on the back of their business card to jog your memory.

follow up after networking

Wait a few days after meeting someone at a networking event – especially if the event was on a weekend or they had to travel for it. This gives them time to get back to their normal work routine.

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You can then send follow-up emails to anyone you want to network with. Be sure to personalize each email with their name and a specific detail or two that you remember about them (see, those business card notes come in handy!) if there’s a specific action you hope the email will elicit. , then be sure to mention that. Suggest a time to meet or ask if they would like to set up an informational interview.

Professional networking sites and apps are also good platforms to connect with people at networking events. You can see if there is a work history statement or people close to you who can further your connections. However, a connection invitation should be a complement to a personalized follow-up email, not a replacement for it.

what’s more

Even though they can seem a bit intimidating, there are many reasons why networking events are important. From learning new skills to finding job opportunities, networking events can introduce you to people who can get you where you want to go in your career.

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