What’s the big deal with networking? Well, for starters, it’s a very powerful tool in your job-hunt arsenal. Attending Meetups and Eventbrite events in your area of expertise will connect you to others in your field, and might just get your foot in the door for your dream job.
Not sure how to network? Check out these 10 tips to get you started:
1. You need to actually attend the events…
Yeah, you really can’t network if you aren’t out there, in person, talking to people. In this day and age of virtual introductions (dating apps, Facebook groups, etc.), it might seem like you don’t have to go anywhere to meet people. But if you really want to have any credibility with a company, you need to meet them in person at networking events.
Pro-Tip: Bring a colleague or a professional friend with you for your first event if you’d rather not go on your own. Most anybody will help a friend out for free food.
2. Get to the networking event a little early.
You know that phrase “arrive fashionably late?” Yeah, that’s not you. You need to get there early so that you can run into all of the “fashionable” people when they walk in, bettering your chances of getting to talk to key people at the event.
Pro-Tip: Don’t wait around right by the entrance, looking eager. Mill about casually, but in a spot where you can see the door.
3. Talk to any recruiters there, even if it’s just to get some free swag.
No matter how you feel about recruiters, they are a great source of job leads and connections. They might have a hot job, and if nothing else, they might have some decent free swag.
Pro-Tip: Everyone needs a stress ball every now and then.
4. Don’t just talk to recruiters—anyone and everyone could be a great lead.
Even if someone you are talking to doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your specialty or career, they may know someone who does. You never know who could make a difference in your job hunt or life.
Pro-Tip: Conversing with others is a greatly desired skill set. So even if you are speaking with someone you don’t necessarily need in your network, you’re growing your conversation skills, which are crucial in any job.
5. Where better to meet people than around the free food?
Who doesn’t like food? Everyone knows that a huge selling point for networking events is the free food. You will definitely meet a huge variety of people if you stick around the food table.
Pro-Tip: Just because you’re nearby the food table doesn’t mean you need to be constantly eating. There’s nothing worse than someone wanting to start a conversation with you, but you can’t because your mouth is full of food.
6. Leave your “trash talking” at home.
Networking is not the time to be busting people’s chops. Maybe that’s your usual move when conversing with buddies, but networking should be kept professional.
Pro-Tip: Trash talking really only works for a few careers.
7. Bring a notebook to take notes, jot down names, and collect resumes.
What good is it to meet people if you have no way of following up with them? Collect business cards, take notes, collect resumes and literature, etc. Networking doesn’t end when the event is over (see numbers 9 and 10).
Pro-Tip: Bringing a notebook makes you look prepared, a quality any good employee should have.
8. Stay until the end.
If you walk out of the networking event early, people will notice. A lot of times, you’ll run into the same people at different events. If they remember that you didn’t have time to sit through their presentation, they probably won’t have time for you in the future.
Pro-Tip: Staying until the end means you’ll have more time to chat with people, greatly increasing your network.
9. If the technology is there, use it.
Technology is your friend. It’s a great tool to use both before and after your event. For instance, Meetup events have an attendee list. Check it out before the event so you can scope out people you definitely want to talk to. You can even use it afterwards to contact those who attended.
Pro-Tip: Before your event, send a message to attendees letting them know that you hope to see them there and shake their hand. When you arrive to the event, people already have an idea of who you are.
10. Follow up, follow up, follow up. And, oh yeah—follow up!
Follow-up even if you didn't speak to the person, but especially if you did. Use Meetup or other technology tools to thank them for taking the time to shake your hand. If you didn't meet them, message them saying you’re sorry you didn't get to connect at the event, but hope to see them in the future. LinkedIn is another great way to follow up afterwards and stay connected.
Pro-Tip: Just like with dating, it’s important to know when to follow up. Certainly within 24 hours, make brief contact to thank them for their time. If you two agreed upon specific follow up, then do it—don’t miss it. But if no plans were discussed, give it 48 to 72 hours before the second follow up.
Network with us…
Ready to start networking? Join us at one of the many events we’re attending around Charlotte. We’d love to connect.