Make the Most out of Your Networking Opportunities
Written by Sally Leung, Recruiter at Jobspring Boston
We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”, but how true is that really?
According to a recent survey done by the Department of Labor, networking accounts for at least 69% of all hires. Networking is critical for the success of countless careers. In our high tech world, our main forms of communication are email, text or phone calls. We are losing that face-to-face interaction. Routinely attending networking events will get you face time with others in your industry, with the potential for building stronger relationships and moving your career forward.
Since networking is so important, you want to use your time wisely and make the best-possible impressions. Here are some helpful tips when going to a networking event:
Go with a purpose
You are already busy, so don’t waste time-- make the most out of it! Set a goal for yourself to meet at least three new people.
The Lone Ranger approach
Personally, I often attend networking events by myself or with one other person. When you go to an event with a group of friends, you will tend to stick with each other and you’ll be less likely to talk to new people.
Scan the scenery
This goes back to purpose. Make sure you are using your time effectively. I like to look at the scene and approach individuals standing alone or in small groups. They’ll be the most likely to be open to new participants. It’s much easier to break into a conversation that way.
Make a good first impression
You can’t dismiss the power of a good handshake. You’d certainly don’t want to have a death grip, but you also don’t want to be remembered as the person with the dead fish grasp.
Be someone you’d want to talk to
Ask open-ended questions that will keep the conversation flowing, make direct eye contact, and give the person you’re speaking with your full attention.
As my colleague, DJ, likes to say, always be positive. You might go to a networking event and may not make any immediate contacts that could translate to anything right away, but the connections you make have a very real chance of coming back to you in the future (whether it’s a few weeks or months down the road), or that person might introduce you to someone who IS the right person to talk to.
Offer to help
…and don’t expect anything in return. This goes back to the previous point. Offer to help where you can. Most people appreciate a favor and want to reciprocate.
Keep those connections!
Bring business cards. Keep YOUR business cards in your left pocket and the incoming cards from others in your right pocket. That way, you wouldn’t get them mixed up. Make it a point to get their contact info, especially if it’s a great contact. Sometimes people will run out of business cards, so in that case, just grab their email or number and follow-up with them the next day. And remember to add them on LinkedIn- it’s a totally expected and professional habit these days.
With these helpful tips, you will be sure to make a statement at your next networking event!