Imagine this scenario: You signed up for a networking event, spent days (maybe even weeks) researching the attendees and rehearsing your best answers to possible questions, but you arrive to find yourself in a crowded room completely tongue-tied.
To avoid a scary scenario like above, here are three things to remember before, during, and after a networking event that will help you nail the evening:
Prepare yourself by having a goal in mind. Do you want to meet more people in your industry, are you looking for a new job lead, or are you trying to connect with others who will help you advance in your career? Knowing what it is you want will help you create a successful action plan that’ll keep you from drifting aimlessly through the night.
Don’t let anyone tell you first impressions don’t count, because they do. After you flash a bright smile and shake some hands, make sure you listen to what someone across from you is saying, so you can effectively ask questions. Sincerity goes a long way; and if someone knows you’re truly interested in what they have to say, they’ll be more likely to engage in a deeper conversation resulting in (surprise!) an effective network connection. After you’ve talked to a few people, try stepping aside to jot down a few notes on your phone, this will come in handy when you follow up with your new contacts!
Now that you have some important contact information, it’s time to put it in action! A simple e-mail reiterating how nice it was to chat and meet at the event is all it takes. Personalize each message using the notes you took at the event and suggest meeting for coffee or drinks to engage in further conversations with your new connection.