Although it can often be considered a shallow tactic for anyone trying to market themselves and land a new role, networking, both online and offline, is pretty much essential for any personal branding strategy.
In her perceptive review of the importance of networking and the effect it can have on your job search, Kelly Moeller throws out a revealing statistic:
“Staggeringly, over 60% of jobs are found and filled through networking (in-person and online).”
So here are five things you should consider before you attend your next networking event.
How to master networking events
1. Be prepared
Whatever it is you are attending make sure you are prepared. If the focus is on e-commerce acquaint yourself with some topical insight that you can use and reference in conversation.
Understanding how to introduce yourself is also key. Having a short, concise elevator pitch which suitably coveys who you are and what you do is essential and will help you make that important first impression. It may seem strange, but practicing your introduction beforehand can help – just remember to give yourself 60 seconds max!
2. The importance of business cards
This is as fundamental as it gets but you’d be surprised by the amount of people who either don’t possess one or manage to leave them at the office.
Business cards are inexpensive and can be designed easily online on sites such as Printing.com
or Print Monday
. However, try not to hand them out to everyone you meet as this can sometimes be perceived as desperation. Instead, ensure you have built enough rapport with someone before you exchange cards; you’re more likely to receive a follow-up response this way.
3. Do not spread yourself too thinly
When attending an event, it's best to attempt to build strong and lasting relationships with influential attendees. By spreading yourself too thinly and attempting to charm everyone in the room, you’re unlikely to be able to conduct serious, meaningful conversations with anyone.
Instead, commit yourself to building a rapport with 4 or 5 key influencers and consider asking thoughtful and genuine questions which will provoke long discussions or debates. Josephine Fairley
, co-founder of Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate, recognises this in her networking advice
guide when she argues that “networking should be about building real relationships, actively maintaining them - and above all, giving as much as you take.”
4. Be social
Occasionally you can be less direct if you reach out via social media saying thank you straight after a meeting. This way your updates and tweets will help keep you front of mind. Indeed, if you are not doing so already, make sure you are joining LinkedIn groups and creating content on your social networks that engages your professional community.
Social networks can also provide a heap of useful contacts in the first place. Make sure you have a LinkedIn
account that you are proud of and take some time to explore your existing network – re-connecting with old colleagues or school friends could lead to promising openings and recommendations.
5. Always follow up
If you’ve managed to exchange details with anyone influential, always consider sending a casual follow-up email or LinkedIn message to them.
Whether it’s an article you’ve seen that reminded you of what you spoke of or even your updated CV to remind them who you are, remember to keep follow-ups short and sweet.