Networking: Dos and Don’ts
Nobody said networking was easy. Engaging in conversation with strangers is difficult, but the potential connections will be lucrative for your future, so here are some tips to keep in mind next time you’re wringing your hands at the door.
People love to talk about themselves and will respond positively to genuine interest—so be sincere. Prepare before an event and write out some possible questions that interest you. They’ll be flattered that your questions actually reflect their line of work.
Go back to elementary school and pull out the 5 W’s (and H) while talking. Asking open-ended questions with who, what, where, when, why and how will lengthen the conversation—forcing listeners to respond with more than one word answers.
A quick and polite email or thank you card 48 hours after meeting can remind someone of your determination and interest. Reference your conversation so they remember you and thank them if they took the time to meet or chat so that they know you’re courteous and appreciative.
Be a leech:
Rather than standing by the door or in a dark corner, chat with the host who can introduce you to others at the event, but don’t grow too attached to anyone. Make sure to mingle with small groups that will be beneficial for your specific career path.
By arriving a little early, you can scope out these groups and even have time for one-on-one conversations before others sprinkle in.
Avoid giving your company’s history or double carding (one for referral). Not everyone is as friendly as Carly Rae Jepsen. They’ve just met you, so even calling you (maybe) is a stretch; don’t expect a referral too. Instead, make yourself memorable by explaining a quick example of something unique or interesting your company does. By doing this you won’t seem pushy like a traveling salesman, but rather informative to your peers.
Image courtesy of Vogue.