1. Have the Right Mindset for Networking
If you walk into a networking event thinking, “My goal is to have a job offer when I leave,” that’s not going to fly.
Even if that’s your ultimate goal, you need to view networking as a relationship-building exercise, not a job fair.
2. Find Networking Events
- Industry/Professional Associations
- Online Event Websites – Sites like Meetup, Eventbrite, and Lanyrd
- Industry Influencers – Find out where your favorite influencers are speaking – or if they recommend an upcoming event.
- LinkedIn or Facebook – Both sites have searchable events where you can sign up and find out who’s attending
3. Select the Right Events
Here’s what to look for in events to make the most out of them for your needs:
- Aligned with Your Goals – Choose events that match your personal and professional goals.
- Proven Organizer – Check to see if this person or organization has hosted events in the past.
- Relevant Attendees – Sites like Meetup, Eventbrite, Facebook and LinkedIn often allow you to see who is attending. If there are people attending that you want to meet, you’ll know it’s worth it.
4. Be Prepared
- Create an Elevator Pitch: This is a 30-second soundbite that explains who you are, what you do, and a few distinct qualities that demonstrate your uniqueness or competence.
- Identify People: You might want to attend an event because you know that certain individuals will be there. Rather than seeing them as a target, think of ways that you can naturally initiate conversation or any common connections you might have.
5. Have Great Conversations
- Be Curious: Ask questions that show you care and understand what they’ve said so far.
- Find Common Ground: Build on anything that creates a common bond.
- Listen: Don't listen to respond, listen to understand
- Offer Solutions: If they mention a problem or a challenge they have, try to offer a solution.
- Stay in Touch – Wrap up the conversation with a way to stay connected.