Looking to make connections in order to boost your career or even get a new one off the ground? Networking is one technique that may help you land that  dream position. 

Attending a few networking events may sound simple enough, but there’s more to the socializing and sharing of business cards than you would think. Here are a few tips on how you can make the most of your time at a career networking event. 

Prepare Before the Event 

Networking events can be busy. Without clear goals from the outset, you may end up leaving the event no better off than when you began. With that in mind, it’s important to have clear goals before you even step into the event. 

Make the goal specific or broad depending upon your needs. For example, you may want to make at least two connections to people in your field, or perhaps, collect business cards from professionals who have jobs similar to the position you are hoping to acquire. 

Prepare yourself both physically and mentally before the event. Pick out an outfit that will make a good first impression. Look professional and well put together. Prepare mentally by having a quick one or two sentence blurb about yourself ready for when you meet new people. It should include: your name, current position, why you are attending the event or briefly what your business plans are. 

Have your business cards ready to go in your pocket to hand to anyone who may ask for it. Also have a pen to jot down short notes on each card that you collect. This will help you remember the person long after the event is over.

people around a computer

During the Event 

Once you arrive at the networking event, you may not know where to begin. Start by introducing yourself and listening to the person or people that you are talking to. Repeat their name so you don’t forget it.  Ask engaging questions such as: 

  • What type of business are you in? 
  • Where are you originally from? 
  • How long have you been at your company? 
  • What brought them to this event? 
  • What projects are you working on currently? 
  • Compare notes to see if you have any business friends in common. 

Try to have a conversation not just about the event but on a more personal level as well. You would be amazed at the number of people who bond over Netflix shows, or places they have visited. The more things in common you can discover about each other, the better chance you will have of being remembered later. 

We suggest that you collect business cards from each person that you meet, but don’t automatically assume that they will want yours in return. By getting their card you are in control of who you can contact later. Take a short note on each card about the person such as, “Likes Game of Thrones” or “Has two kids in school.” Write down anything that will be your connection and a way of remembering the person. 

If you are even slightly introverted, a networking event may give you hives. You may want to attend with a co-worker or friend who is in your field. Having a wing-man (or woman) can put you more at ease and allow you to relax as you work the room. Try to have fun, let your personality show, and be sincere in your interest in others. The more you practice networking, the easier it will become. 

writing thank you note

After the Event

As you head home from the event, you may realize that you have a stack of cards to sort through. Organize them into “people you may want to follow up with” vs “people who you enjoyed meeting but are not in your field or don’t have a connection to your business goals.”

Follow up in a few days with people you found may be able to help you with your career goals. Be professional in your email and be sure to mention something personal that may jog the person’s memory of who you are because they probably met quite a few people at the event too! You may want to ask for clarification about some of things you discussed or even arrange for a meet up or interview if the person has any openings in their company. 

Growing your professional circle can happen quickly through networking. As you get more comfortable with the events, you may find that your confidence will grow and willingness to talk to others may increase. Use these events to expand your professional landscape and get to know others in your field. 

Do you need help with networking? The North Shore Career Center   and MassHire North Shore offer many workshops where job seekers can brush up on their skills, practice interview techniques, and gain valuable insights on industry trends. Check out our calendar and consider coming in to speak with our team to find out some great strategies to land you the job you desire.