Networking events are valuable ways to get connected with professionals beyond your usual colleagues and contacts. Preparing for the networking event is extremely important, as you want to make sure you are representing your most professional self. Below are some tips to be the best prepared for every networking event you attend.
1. Research Other Attendees
Whether you’ve been provided with a list of event attendees, or you simply know the topic, industry, or region the networking event revolves around, come prepared. Make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with the topic, industry, or people who will be attending. Look into at least three to four people and get to know their career background so that you come prepared to help them in their job search.
2. Give Back
Whatever you’re prepared to give is much more powerful than your elevator pitch. Of course, your elevator pitch is instrumental all the same, but people are much more likely to help when you offer to help them in return. You want to show up prepared and aware of what you bring to the table for each connection. People tend to stay top-of-mind and become a much more meaningful connection when they are prepared to give.
3. Bring and Collect Business Cards
This seems like a given, but many are surprised by the amount of people who come to networking events without business cards. Print 100 business cards to carry in your padfolio to easily share your contact information. Handing someone your business card gives them the opportunity to exchange information with you. It’s a simple, straightforward, and effective way to build your contacts and become a memorable connection. So, be sure to collect a business card from every person you talk with at the event so you can connect with them afterward. Even if you aren’t attending a networking event, business cards are a great thing to have on you at all times. You never know when you will make a valuable connection in your everyday life.
4. Create and Practice Your Elevator Pitch
At networking events, you want your elevator pitch to be a fluid and natural part of the conversation. While it’s important that you nail down and memorize your pitch, you still want it to come off organic. That will allow you to make a much more authentic connection. Keep in mind that your pitch should be around 30-60 seconds and include a brief introduction of you, your skills, and your career goals. Tailor this to each attendee you intend to approach.
5. Prepare Your Professional Outfit Beforehand
First impressions are key, especially in business. You want to make sure you look as professional as possible to make a lasting first impression. Of course, keep in mind the suggested attire of each event, and err on the side of dressing one step above whatever is recommended. If you are unsure of the appropriate attire for the event, dress in business casual, though it’s generally recommended to dress in formal business wear.