People seem to dread the thought of a networking event. I honestly don't know why. Speaking from my own personal experience, it is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, who are more than likely going through the same experiences, and problems as you. You can offer advice to one another or do some business together - the possibilities are endless!
Depending on what you are looking for, you need to make sure you attend events that are worth your while. If you are on the job search, pretty much any networking event would be worth going to. You never know who you are going to meet and where. Speaking from experience, I have not only been offered a job because of networking, but I have also been inspired to start my own company. It can open up so many possibilities.
Networking is especially good if you are sick and tired of filling out boring applications as it allows you to experience a new way of job searching. By interacting with like-minded people, you grow your confidence and make important connections for life. You know what they say, it’s all about who you know.
Here are our top tips for making your networking effective…
Don’t be afraid to get chatting! When you are at a networking event, there will be lots of people there who are experienced networkers and this can be a little overwhelming. People will be so enthused to tell you all about themselves, but make sure you get a word in about you and your background.
Research and join professional networks in your area. There are tons of professional networking communities out there, you just have to do some research and find the ones suited to you. If you’re nervous about meeting new people, don't be. Once you attend one networking event, the next will have some familiar faces which will sort out the ice breaking moments.
Attend a structured networking event. If you are too nervous to just walk into a room and strike up a casual conversation with a total stranger, then its understandable as a first time networker. Try to attend a structured event for example, I have been to one which is like speed dating except networking. You take 2 minutes to talk to each person and the time goes by so fast you have no time to think about being nervous. You get to speak to a lot more people than you would a casual networking event too.
Get some business cards. You don't have to own a business to have a business card. A card could simply describe you as a person and some of your experience - like a mini CV that you can hand out to people with your contact details on it. Not everyone has one of these so you will likely become more memorable.
Follow up. It is essential that you follow up with some of the people you have met at networking events, otherwise what was the point? Anyone who you think would be beneficial to you in the future, you must make the effort to contact. Even if you don't know what to say, there has to be some form of follow up communication. I suggest a quick one liner email something along the lines of, “Hey! We met yesterday at the networking event, and I just wanted to say it was lovely to have met you. If you think we could work on anything together in the future, let me know. Will keep in touch”. This is a simple, friendly email that will leave the invitation open so that they do not feel bombarded, as they will probably have had a lot of ‘salesy’ emails that day from other people they have met at the same event. Top tip: connect with them on LinkedIn. This is a great way to remind them that you are there, but on a professional level. You can endorse them for skills or like/comment on their updates.
These are just some tips you could use to better your networking experience. I think it is such a good idea to get out there and try this new way to be recruited. It’s so much more fun and encouraging than filling out application forms and much quicker than being headhunted.