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85% of jobs get filled through networking. This stat highlights the value of what it takes to get a job. It highlights the value of meeting someone in person from a business that may hire you.
Networking events can be local or can be a metropolitan city. They can be a way to get your foot in the door at an event. But you have to do more than show up.
What to do at a networking event requires a strategy that can benefit your career.
The most important thing you can do is be yourself. Of course, you need to also apply other strategies that can help you get the most out of these events.
Here are 10 tips for what to do at a networking event that can ultimately help you land your dream career.
1. Have a Drink
When you first arrive at a networking event, you may feel anxious feeling surrounded by people who could give you a job. You may feel pressure to act a certain way.
The best thing you can do when you first arrive at a networking event is to calm yourself down. You can do this by going to the bar and getting yourself a drink.
Having a drink or being near a bar with a drink on hand can allow you to easily strike a conversation with another person at the bar.
2. Be Yourself
This almost goes without saying, but you need to be yourself and talk naturally to people. Don’t force discussion topics about work. Don’t try to talk about how much you want to work for a business.
You should be yourself and talk to people at the networking event like you would any stranger. Talk about sports, weather, tell a funny story, and most importantly, listen to what they are saying.
3. Don’t Set Unrealistic Expectations
Don’t walk into a networking event with the expectation that you’ll get a job. Also, don’t want into a networking event trying to talk to a single person.
If you don’t meet your expectations, you’ll find yourself disappointed.
Some realistic expectations you can set are just meeting 3-4 people at the networking events and getting some business cards.
4. Take Notes
When you do talk to people at a networking event, take down some notes. Have a notepad ready and write down some notes about their business. And don’t forget their names!
Taking notes also shows other people that you care about them. It shows that you are interested in them. It also gives you a blueprint on who to follow up.
You can also get custom pins designed to show what businesses or networks you are a part of. It’s a great way to start a conversation and you being yourself at the same time.
You can shop here for pins.
5. Have a Goal
Whenever you do attend a networking event, have a realistic goal. You can have as simple a goal as having fun and being yourself.
You can have a goal that you’re going to meet 10 people and not expect anything when you talk to them. The point is, have an agenda of what you’re going to do when you attend a networking event.
6. Listen, Then Speak
When you do talk to people at networking events, make sure you listen to what they are saying. Ask them questions that make them feel heard.
So many people enjoy talking about themselves, so give the people this opportunity. They will notice that you carefully listen to their stories.
Most importantly, wait for them to ask you questions. Don’t assume that it’s your turn to talk about yourself. Keep asking about what they do and how they do it.
Be interested in them.
7. Do Your Research
Before you attend a networking event, you should do some research on who will be attending. Get to know some businesses and the people in these businesses by doing some preliminary research.
By doing some research, you can be more prepared at networking events that can sometimes help you when you’re having a conversation with somebody. They can be impressed with your body of work.
8. Learn How to Help Connections
Not every networking event is about trying to get a job. It’s about meeting new people and helping one another out.
When you attend a networking event, you should aim to help people with whatever issue they are having. Most importantly, don’t look to help people only so they can help you.
Help people with no expectation of anything in return. This leads directly to number 9.
9. Make Friends
Networking events are about making friends. You might find people you enjoy getting drinks with, having conversations with, or just hanging out with.
Sure, these friends might have another friend that could help you get a job. But that should not be your goal. Your goal should be to meet people that you get along with.
10. Follow Up
One of the most parts of networking is following up, especially with people who are in the business you want to work in.
If you meet someone and they give their business card, don’t hesitate to follow up a week later with a friendly email. Don’t send something formal.
Send something that discusses what you talked about at the networking event and how enjoyable it was at the event. Your follow-up can also be a way to meet over drinks or dinner.
Now You Know What to Do at a Networking Event
These tips can help you stand out and have a really good time at a networking event. You shouldn’t see these events as something that makes you uncomfortable or as a place you believe will land you your next job.
Networking should always be about the other person, getting to know one another. It should be about making friends.
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