Is everyone telling you to start networking but you don’t know where to start? Have no idea what you would even say to a professional in your field? Or even where to meet them? Here’s a few tips no matter what degree you’re in.
1) Join a networking directory
To find out when and where all these professional meetups are happening sign yourself up to an online directory such as meetup.com, Eventbrite.com and LinkedIn Events. Pick and choose the events that suit you and make a commitment to attend one.
2) Make or update your Linked-In
If you don’t already have a Linked-In profile, it’s time to make one! Before you get started, check out the profiles of other people in your field and organisations you might be looking to join in the future to get an idea for some key buzz words going around your profession. If you’re looking to network, make sure you’re profile is all up to date with an accurate profile, most recent experience and a professional profile AND background picture. Check our Linked-In tips card for ways to really make your profile pop!
Don’t wait until the night before to realise you don’t have the right jacket to wear! Pick your at the start of the week, make sure you have something to hold all the business cards you collect and rehearse your introduction in the mirror. Have a few questions ready that you would like to ask and pack your business cards if you have them!
4) Set yourself a target for the event
A networking event is not a social gathering, everyone is there to achieve something. Set yourself a target for the number of people you want to talk to- if that number is 5, make sure you leave with 5 business cards!
5) Talk AND listen
There is no point accumulating business cards if you and the other party have nothing to offer each other. Take time to find out about who you are networking with and what they can offer you. Have a discrete notepad and pen handy so you can take notes after each conversation to remember who you’ve spoken with and any important follow-up steps or details.
6) Give referrals
If a person or organisation isn’t relevant to you, but you know someone who may be of interest to them, refer them! This is still a great way to make connections as you will be remembered as the referrer. Don’t be afraid to ask for two business cards if you want to stay connected to the person but also want to refer someone else, it’s all good business and relationship building!
7) Time Management
It’s important to keep track of your time when you’re networking. Don’t get too caught up in a conversation with one person and miss out on speaking to four others. If you run into someone you know or spoke to at a previous networking event, make the effort to nurture the relationship by saying hello, but don’t spend too much time here as the point of the event is to make new connections.
Make sure to follow-up with your new contacts in the following days! It could be as simple as an email or LinkedIn message saying it was great to meet them and you look forward to any opportunities to work with them in the future and remind them of what you/your business has to offer. If any offers were made make sure to follow-up the very next day! This is a super important step to networking, without which, the value of your time attending the event will have been wasted.