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Tips for Attending and Hosting Networking Events
When I’m invited to an afterhours networking event, two questions never fail to cross my mind: 1) Will I know anyone there? 2) Do I have to go?
Social work events can be nerve-wracking, but they are also a fantastic way to work your way out of your comfort zone. Networking events present opportunities to meet people you might not meet otherwise and broaden your web of contacts.
Forcing yourself to attend networking events can be the perfect way to break into that company you’ve had your eye on, gain a better perspective of your job and—dare I say it—you may even have fun.
Six Tips For Successful Networking Events
Here are some helpful tips to take into account before attending networking events:
- Make it a point to introduce yourself with a smile and a firm handshake. Friendliness is key here!
- Manage your alcohol intake. Most networking events involve a bar of some sort, so make sure you’re pacing yourself. The open bar is tempting, I know, but first impressions are important. Don’t blow your chance with a new contact by slurring your words.
- Try not to cling to people you know. I know the most comfortable thing to do in a networking situation is to talk to the two or three friends you dragged there with you. Do not do this! The purpose of the event is to meet new people. I always try to connect with at least five new people at each event I attend.
- Avoid using your phone during a networking event. Texting, Facebook updates, and emails can detach you from what’s really going on around you. Your phone can wait, don’t risk looking disinterested.
- Even if the event is more laidback and casual, still make sure you are presenting yourself professionally. Have a quick “elevator pitch” and some go-to facts about your company ready in case someone asks what you do for work.
- Try to avoid keeping the conversation focused on you to avoid being the “boring” or “self-absorbed” one at the event. Make it a point to ask questions of others to help move the conversation along and allow everyone to get a chance to talk.
If you’re hosting a networking event, here are some tips to keep everything running smoothly:
- Hold your events at up and coming places that have some kind of draw. Hosting an event at a new restaurant, bar or venue that people are already curious about will give them an incentive to come and check out the event.
- Keep your spiel short and simple. When people choose to attend a networking event they are there to chat and network with others. Thank everyone for coming, keep announcements to a few minutes, and let people do their thing.
- See if you can work with the venue to have food or drink specials available for attendees. Many places are happy to give a small discount or offer specials when they have a large group coming in.
- Keep atmosphere in mind. Don’t host your event at a noisy venue. Trying to talk to someone you just met over loud music makes a new meeting awkward.
- As the host, take it upon yourself to get conversation flowing. If you think there are people that should meet, introduce them!
There is so much that you can get out of networking. Keep an open mind! I’m often hesitant to attend events like these, but I never regret going. So don’t forget to wear deodorant (for that dreadful nervous sweat), put on those social pants of yours, and go have some fun! Don’t be afraid of meeting new people, you never know who you might run into.
Amy Randolph is the Membership Marketing Manager for IAAP. She can be reached at email@example.com.