Updated: May 3
Because Your Net worth is Equal to your Network!
"Spend at least five minutes with as many people as you can. You might develop relationships that will surprise you."
It is 5:00pm and you are extending your workday into the evening so that you can attend a networking event, which you eagerly signed up for two months ago. While you were excited when you sent in your RSVP, you are now exhausted from your day and are wondering if this whole thing is worth the hassle. You enter the building and feel a twinge of anxiety. Will you know anyone? What if no one wants to talk to you? You turn around to head to your car when you hear someone call your name from inside.
Although after hours events can be intimidating, they can be incredibly influential for career mobility. When approached in the right way, you can meet executives you would never normally interact with, as well as learn about upcoming opportunities. Though networking events can feel awkward and forced, these tips will help you to push through the discomfort and make the most of the professional social opportunity.
1. Commit to The Events
We all have busy lives and attending after hours work events can seem like a chore. Even if this is the case, making an effort to attend events can reap big rewards down the line.
To expand your professional contacts, join a local networking group and get on their email list for monthly networking events. Make sure you commit to attending at least one event every quarter. Community events give you the opportunity to meet people from other companies and make connections to grow your career.
If your company has their own networking events, attend those as well. This is a critical step in advancing within your company and I guarantee some of your most successful colleagues have gotten where they are by their networking abilities.
2. Bring a Buddy and Your Business Cards
Sometimes having a wing-man by your side can bring you out of your shell and keep you from standing alone in the corner. If you have an outgoing coworker or friend who can help you network, bring them as back up.
Another thing to remember is your business cards. Always make sure to bring as many business cards and marketing materials as you can. Depending on the size of the event, bring enough business cards for 1.5 times the expected attendance. Bring brochures, pens, and other small marketing items, but do not shove them down people’s throats. Leave a sample of material at the sign-in table as you exit so the event coordinators will have them as well.
3. Spend at Least Five Minutes with Everyone
Nothing screams snake oil salesman like a person who interacts only with a select group of “important” people, while blatantly ignoring everyone else. There have been times in which I felt completely invisible while people like this talked past me, only making conversation with those whom they felt could benefit them. Whatever you do, don’t be that person. Spend at least five minutes with as many people as you can. You might develop relationships that will surprise you.
4. Go Easy on the Cocktails
There is often a two-drink minimum, but on the off chance the event has an open bar, be aware of how much alcohol you are consuming. Tons of people have put their career in jeopardy by knocking back one too many drinks at an event. Try to limit your alcohol to one to two drinks and consume plenty of water. Remember that you are at a professional event, not a sorority mixer.
5. Follow up
Remember to grab the business card of everyone you speak with and send a follow-up email or letter if you are interested in getting to know them better. Grow your network by connecting on Linked In and always send a thank you note to the organizers of the event. This will win you major brownie points and will help you to get invited to future events.
Networking events do not have to feel uncomfortable. When you show up as your best self, you can learn about future opportunities and form relationships that will last your whole career. Half the battle is signing up and committing to the event. Once you are in the door, you allow yourself to be visible to those in your professional community. Follow these tips and you will learn to master such situations and will soon be doing them with ease.
Inspiration of the Day: "Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come." - Diane Helbig
Shannon Slack helps her clients craft irresistible resumes and establish career paths. For more tips or if you would like to work with me click below: https://www.moonlightingcareerservices.com/contact.