Hello. My name is . And then what? What should I say? What do I want? These are questions you may nervously ask yourself when you approach a professional at a networking event. When I recently went to an event to network with current and prospective clients, it made me think about when I was a college student and how I had no idea how to make an outstanding first impression. Calm down and remind yourself that you can easily learn how to network with good practices. I thought you would be interested in reviewing some tips that will help you for the next networking event you attend.
When you enter an event, walk in with a smile to greet people. Keep that smile on! Most professionals in this industry are friendly and will return a smile and thus give you an opening. Once you make contact with someone, a firm handshake and eye contact is always a must when introducing yourself. Eye contact and a smile is an excellent way to gain a moment with a new person you have not met. When I was waiting to speak to one of the speakers after a panel, I made sure I nodded, smiled and made eye contact with her. This way, she had a chance to acknowledge me and I was able to politely dive in to introduce myself. I stress politely because I've seen others aggressively shove through and rudely cut past a crowd to gain attention of a speaker or other person of interest at an event. Body language goes a long way in how you present yourself and make a first impression.
Exchange Business Cards
You just had a terrific conversation with a professional that suggested you keep in touch and forward your resume. Perfect. Now, do not forget to ask for his or her business card or contact information. This is the key to unlock the true potential of networking events, whose purpose is to build your connections and stay in touch. Whether you have a business card or not, make sure you ask for one from your newfound connection. The moment of exchanging business cards is one of my favorite parts of networking since I love being connected and seeing the unique designs of some cards.
Bring a Pen, and Use It
Unless you have a photographic memory, always have a pen in hand to take notes. I learned from my boss after you meet hundreds of people at one event, jotting down little notes of how you met someone and what they said can bring back the "ahaa" moment when it comes to following up later. If the person you want to connect with is a speaker at an event, it's especially helpful to take notes so that you can react to some of their own talking points when you do get to speak with them. Who does not like to hear that you are attentively listening to them as they speak? So have that pen ready.
Keeping In Touch
Many people have told me that the keeping in touch part can be difficult as people go back to their overloaded schedules and full email in-boxes. Here's how I take the first step to stay connected to a professional after meeting them. First, I look for them on LinkedIn and ask to connect, and make sure the message is personalized so I remind them how we met. Another good way to follow up is to e-mail to say thank you for a suggestion they made. Be sure if they suggested you send them your resume that you contact them within a week. Based on the conversation you started, go with the flow from there.
These are only a handful of tips for networking and I am sure there are many more you will learn from others. Others tips to keep in mind is to know the event agenda before you arrive, greet the hosts who organized event and have a target list of who you want to meet. Do you have any tips to share that you use when networking at an event?
About the Author
Jessalin Lam is a 2010 graduate of Baruch College with a Bachelors of Business Administration degree in marketing. After graduation, Jessalin took a position as a Sales Assistant for Empire Promotional Products. Lam was promoted to a Sales and Marketing Associate, responsible for developing strong relationships and selling various promotional products to clients such as GE, American Express, and Baruch College. Currently, she is working for Multicultural Marketing Resources performing sales, marketing and editorial assignments. In her spare time, Jessalin volunteers for Advertising Women in New York (AWNY) and The Advertising Club of NY.