Networking is very important to your career but in most cases you are not going to be attending “Networking Events” every week. You will, on the other hand most likely attend other forms of social gatherings that you can use to your advantage, especially now that it is sunny and warm out! There will be plenty of opportunities to socialize with a variety of different people, who knows if they might turn out to be someone who can be benefit your career.
There is no guarantee that you will make a professional connection with someone at each social event you go to but with a little effort and a positive attitude you just might! Keep these in mind to help along the way.
Remember you are choosing to go to the event so, have fun at it! Go in knowing that you are going to have fun. Networking is a priority that shouldn’t be the only reason for going to the event, you are there because you want to have a good time and connect with new people! Relax and enjoy the party, try not to stress yourself out by trying to make a networking pitch to everyone you talk to. Instead take the time to eat, drink, laugh, and smile. Your opportunity to network will come naturally as you are having fun and enjoying yourself.
Being bold and staying open minded are essential to effective networking considering you have to meet new people, do not dismiss people out of some assumption you have, speak with them first. Approach new people (or people you specifically want to network with) and start a conversation, ask questions and really listen to what they have to say. Remember networking isn’t only about how you can benefit from knowing people, but how you can contribute to their lives as well. What kind of help can you offer them? The network connections you are seeking will come through the building of quality relationships and these relationships have to go both ways.
After spending the event having fun and meeting new people do your due diligence in following up with the people that you made a connection with. In this case, that implies you connected on some level greater than just general conversation, offer your help with something if possible. Following up like this can open up the avenue for “work-talk” if it did not already come up, and present you with the opportunity to turn the social connection you made into a professional connection as well.
You never know when you will meet someone that you can network with, but it will take some initiative on your part to find out if there is a professional connection to be made. Make the most of the events you attend while taking the time to be genuine and help others when possible. Social gatherings present you with the opportunity to get to know people, the initial connection does not have to be purely related to business (that can come further down the road.) Really try to connect with people and create relationships that can last as those are the ones that may help you out in the future.
By: Renee Walrath