Career and Professional Development Center Tips to Prepare for Networking Events
1. Attire: Dressing for success is no joke. Make note of the required attire for the event. If you are unsure, err on the side of caution and dress up, not down. This is the first impression you will make on your new connections. Remember the Butterfly Effect: Small changes can have a big impact. For assistance, the Bison Boutique is the lending closet, free to Nichols College Students.
2. Review the Guest List: Know who will be there and what can you learn from them? This is a great opportunity to conduct mini informational interviews. Learn about specific jobs, career paths, companies, and industries, first-hand from someone who has been there.
3. Prepare Questions: This should be done in advance, after reviewing the guest list. Write down 3 to 5 questions for each guest and bring them with you. It is easy to get swept up in the moment and forget what it is that you wanted to ask while the event is taking place.
4. NO Phones: Taking your phone out at an event can send the wrong message. It can leave guests with the impression that you are uninterested, unprofessional, or even rude.
5. Introduction: Approach and be approachable to make the most of any networking opportunity. Practice a good handshake and smile. Use eye contact and state your full name for when introducing yourself. For more tips, please see How to Shake Hands & Introduce Yourself
6. Elevator Speech: It is likely that you will be asked about yourself. Be prepared with your 30 to 60 second elevator speech. Networking is a skill that improves with practice. Take advantage of each opportunity to improve your skill while increasing your network.
7. Business cards: Bring yours and collect theirs. It is recommended to bring business cards, if you have them, to all events. A step further would be to keep some in your wallet at all times because you never know who you are going to bump into unexpectedly. Business cards are a quick way to open the door for future conversations.
8. Stay: If a start and end time is provided for an event, stick to it and stay the duration. Early exits can give the wrong impression to event attendees who have arranged their schedule for you.
9. Follow-up: After you have made a connection, follow-up with a thank you note, email is appropriate after large networking events. “Thank you for your time…” or “It was nice to meet you…” You may also want to send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.
Helpful Hint: After an event, write on the back of the business cards that you have collected so you can quickly recall the individual at a later date. For example, you might write, “9/26/19 Creative Careers Event – Nichols College, request a company tour.” As you grow your network, you will accumulate many cards. This practice can be helpful when following up on your new connections and building those professional relationships long-term.