How to Prepare for Your First Big Networking Event

Networking Event
March 22, 2021
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Figuring out how to make your best impression at a networking event can seem challenging at first. There are so many people that you might want to meet but you have limited time to make a meaningful impression on each one. Thinking about some of these ideas can help you arrive at the event well prepared.

Come With Specific Goals

When it comes to networking events, it can feel like there are so many things that you want to do and learn, and so many people you want to meet. Trying to accomplish it all can be overwhelming, to say the least. As you approach your preparation for this sort of networking event, think carefully about your goals.

When you break down what you are trying to get out of attending an event like this, you’ll be better able to allocate your resources and energy towards the things that you need to accomplish. Maybe that means focusing on a few individuals that you want to meet. Maybe that means getting the most out of a few workshops so that you’ll go home with the skills and tools necessary to make the changes you want to make in your business. Whatever it is, having the right goal in mind will help you focus on the important things.

Dress for the Occasion

When it comes to preparing for a networking event, dressing the part can make a big difference. Dressing well will not only send the message to others that you are professional and would be a good fit for their company, but you’ll also feel more comfortable and less out of place.

You must think carefully about your outfit for a networking event because these events can often be long and require you to literally and figuratively sit in many different seats. You’ll need to be prepared to be standing for a while, to be sitting, and to potentially play games or participate in other activities.

A modest dress can give women confidence at the event. And even more than that, when you feel comfortable in your outfit and aren’t as worried about anything coming untucked or some other wardrobe disaster, you’ll be able to focus more on connecting with the people there.

Prepare Your Elevator Pitch

When you’re at a networking event, you’ll have the chance to explain who you are and what you do to a lot of people. It’s important to be prepared to explain these things as quickly and accurately as you can. These conversations can often influence an employer’s decision to interview or hire you.

That makes those few lines you use to introduce yourself especially important. As you’re thinking about the different things you want to emphasize in your introduction, you may want to come up with a few different versions of how you’d introduce yourself depending on the differences in the audience you are talking to.

Ask Questions

As you’re thinking about attending a networking event, it can be easy to get overly focused on how you present yourself. However, how you look is only one important piece of the networking puzzle. In your process of preparation, don’t forget to think about the right questions to ask.

Often, the most positive interactions you have will be ones where the other individual can sense your genuine interest in them and their work. Having a good arsenal of questions at your disposal can go a long way in helping those conversations be productive.

Reach Out in Advance

As you research in preparation for the event, take a look at the different individuals coming and if anyone catches your eye, don’t hesitate to contact them beforehand. Taking this step can go a long way in helping you connect with the people you want to connect with at this networking event.

Contacting individuals that you are particularly interested in meeting before the event allows you to make an initial connection and strong first impression; it also enables you to make a plan to meet up with each other during the event. Then, you can use that time more productively to talk about collaborating than talking about more introductory things.

Create a Plan for Getting People’s Contact Information

When networking with other professionals, it’s important to have a way to follow up with them. Make sure that you’re able to get their contact information and continue the relationship after the networking meeting. Talking to potential employers isn’t going to do much good if you have no way to contact them afterward. Continuing the communication after the event is over is key if you want the employer to remember you.  

You want to not only think about how you’ll ask for an individual’s contact information but where you’ll record it. Make sure you have a clear place on your phone or in a notebook where you can write down everyone’s contact information or store their business cards. That way it will all be in one place — making it easier to do an effective follow-up after the event.

Research People You Want to Meet

No, this isn’t creepy. Maybe the idea of researching or getting information on people you’d like to meet initially seems a little weird. But in reality, this will not only help you make sure to keep your eyes open for them so that you do meet them, but it will also help you spark a connection sooner.

If you know a bit about their background and can find common ground with them in your research process, you’ll be able to lead off with those things that you know will create a meaningful conversation and will help you have a positive interaction with that individual. 

Networking events can be difficult. There’s a lot of people, a lot of workshops, and a lot to think about. But coming prepared to an event will help you be more at ease and have a positive experience.

Read this next: 5 Tips for Successful International Networking to Grow Your Business

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