Establish your Networking Mindset
- Get into the right mindset before the event by focusing on your goals. How can you best articulate who you are? Who are people you hope to connect with at the event? What are three things you hope to take away from the evening?
- Take a moment to review your introduction speech – who are you, where are you from, what is unique about you, what is your skillset, etc. As you meet people your goal should be to leave a lasting impression.
- Keep an open mind and seek to build relationships (regardless of title or industry). It is important to remember that you may meet someone who is not directly connected to a specific industry, however, they may have a friend, family member, or former colleague they can connect you with.
Prepare Your Introduction, aka the Elevator Speech
- Focus your pitch on who you are and what you are looking for (i.e. name, major, hometown, what you are interested in exploring).
- Express your personality. Add some emotion and passion to your personal story, and try to be less informative and monotonous.
- Ask relevant questions so you can learn about their background and experiences. Once you have shared who you are and learned about who they are, ask for advice or other connections (and get a business card.)
Work the Room
- Remember it’s about quality, not quantity. It is not about how many business cards you get, it’s about making the connection. Make a goal to have quality conversation with at least three individuals.
- Take the initiative to introduce yourself. Don’t wait for others to speak to you first.
- Bring a “wingman” if you are intimidated. Don’t just talk to the people you came with. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
- As you share information about yourself be sure to ask them about who they are. Once you have introduced yourself shift the conversation toward them. This will allow you to learn more about them and see what connections you may have with that person.
- You should aim to attract people by being visible. Firstly, you need to wear nice clothes that adhere to the dress code of the event. Secondly, why not add something to your outfit that makes you standout such as carrying a unique, vintage notebook, wearing an outstanding tie that speaks character or even a lapel pin which can be a conversation starter. These little additions will draw people to you and give them something to remember you by.
- When you dress well, you exhibit self-respect. You also show that you respect your position and the position of others. The additional accessories like the vintage notebook makes you stand out and people may find that interesting enough to strike up a conversation.
- If you meet someone that you would like to follow up with, ask for their business card.
- Following the event send them a note and schedule a time to meet individually or talk by phone. Connect with them on LinkedIn.