aNewDomain — Networking isn’t easy, and if you’re new to the game it can be totally overwhelming. An event can feel like a whirlwind — you want to meet every single person, have deep and engaging conversations and reconnect the next day. But making a dent in a crowded room, and making sure the big wigs know your name, sometimes makes you feel like a stalker. Nobody wants to be a stalker, trust me.
In the end you’ll have a heap of business cards that collect dust if you’re not careful. You don’t want this to happen, so I’ve compiled five helpful tips to make networking a breeze. And you won’t feel like a stalker.
1. Get There Early
If you’re trying to network at an event, fashionably late does not exist. This isn’t a frat party. Get there early, always. If you get there at the beginning of the event the crowds will be minimal, people will not have clustered into cliques yet and nametags will still sit on the welcoming table. You can meet people easily this way — the event organizers, potentially the host — and this will mark you as a memorable attendee right from the start.
2. Get An Introduction
If you did show up early and get to know the organizers, make sure to use them throughout the night. They put the whole show on, so they want people to mingle. Ask them to make introductions (after giving compliments of their event) and they’ll be happy to connect you. When you get introduced you appear to be in the know, which is a big aspect of networking. You can impress a new acquaintance this way, and be able to skip that awkward self-introduction.
3. Make Sure to Introduce Others
If you followed the first two steps you’re bound to know a good number of people by the end of the night, and you can use this to connect people who can help each other. Connect them selflessly, and you’ll find that people will remember you — you’re giving something, after all, when so many attendees are trying to get something for themselves. A strong network survives on many connections, and if you help people today they might help you in the future.
4. Make Sure to Mingle
Networking isn’t about scoring the most business cards, but you do want to meet a number of people at each event. If you are glued to the one person you met in the beginning you’ll look a little desperate, or shy. Converse long enough to learn about a new person’s background and business, explain yourself and move on. Also, moving on provides the perfect opportunity to connect — “It was so great to meet you. I’ll shoot you an email later this week about that job opening. Have a great night.”
5. Follow Up!
Introductions are great, but you need to turn them into relationships. A lot of experts advise to reconnect with new contacts within 24 hours of any networking event. And keep in mind it’s not like a date — there’s no need to obsess over how you follow up. Simply saying, “It was a pleasure meeting you!” via email is enough, just to remind the person you exist.
You can also use technology, like Boomerang for Gmail, for automatic reminders that you should keep in touch. Set it up so that the email comes into your inbox each quarter, and touch base each time. Of course if you had a deeper connection with someone, or see an active opportunity, follow up more seriously. Meeting for coffee to discuss a job prospect is a great way to start.
Follow the tips above, and you’ll be the one everyone wants to talk to at the next networking event.
First image: Hi Tim by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr
Featured image: Tech Cocktail Group by Tech Cocktail via Flickr