One of the key skills you need when you’re looking for a job is knowing how to network effectively – it may seem like a cliché, but a lot of business is about who you know.
Here’s our quick list of the most important things to remember when you go to business events and meet professionals who can help you start climbing the career ladder.
1. Don’t be shy
You won’t get any use out of networking events if you don’t speak to anybody. Take a deep breath and go for it: the whole point of these events is to meet people, so don’t worry about being forward. It’s expected!
If you’re really nervous, take an outgoing or more experienced friend with you and have them start up a few conversations before you try it alone. It gets less scary each time you do it.
2. Introduce yourself well
When you’re making business contacts, first impressions are very important. Offer a firm (but not aggressive) handshake, make eye contact, and speak clearly, even if this doesn’t come naturally to you.
You want to be remembered for the right reasons – not for being the person whose name nobody could quite catch!
3. Bring business cards
One of the best (and easiest) ways to help people remember you is with a personalised business card. They don’t have to be expensive, and you don’t have to have hundreds of them; just make sure they state your name, contact details, and what you do.
When you meet someone you really want to stay in touch with, ask to give them your business card – they’ll usually reciprocate with their own.
4. Remember to smile
For obvious reasons, it’s important to seem approachable when you’re trying to network with other professionals. An easy way to do this is to smile; it costs nothing, and people will react well to it.
5. Don’t just talk – listen
Above all, networking is about having conversations. This means listening to what people are saying to you, taking in what they’re saying, and then responding – not just waiting for your turn to speak and then trying to sell yourself.
You may be at the event for business reasons, but you’re still just a person talking to other people; don’t overthink it.