Networking is sometimes confused with ‘socialising’, but it’s so much more than that. For new graduates, attending seminars about the latest trends in communication, breakfast conferences about new technologies or keynote events provide a unique opportunity to mingle and meet likeminded individuals and expand your network.
It’s important to remember that while you are ‘meeting and greeting’ fellow guests, you are representing your company and your own personal brand. You can’t make a second ‘first impression’ so be sure to act the part and come prepared. Enjoy the food and drinks, but keep in mind you are working – you never know, you might meet your next business partner or future client at an event! Below are my top three tips to abide by when networking, whether you’re a graduate or a seasoned professional.
1. Be Prepared: Have a game plan.
Consider what you want to get out of the event and know why you are going. If you can, know who you want to meet; the keynote speaker, a person on the panel or even a connection of a colleague. Once you’ve thought about the people you want to connect with, prepare an elevator pitch so you can succinctly outline who you are and what services your company provides. Don’t limit yourself to the individuals you identified earlier – be open to making new contacts and stepping outside your comfort zone.
2. Be Present: Make a connection.
It’s not just about collecting business cards - it’s about connecting with people, future clients and fellow businesses. Listen, make eye contact and ask open ended questions while noting opportunities or leads. It can be beneficial to ask for your new connection’s business card and write down anything you discussed.
3. Follow Up: Strike while the iron is hot.
Once you have done the hard work, remember to follow through on any commitments you made. Whether that’s sending a follow up email or forwarding through requested information. Do what you said you would, and do it in a timely manner – preferably the day after the event while the conversation is fresh in your mind. I recommended not waiting any longer than 3-4 days!
If you are looking for some great opportunities to get involved in networking; Networx hosts events throughout the year aimed at Communication and Marketing professionals, the Business section on Eventbrite includes a boarder range of events. Finally, the PRIA also host online and face-to-face events throughout the year.
Now that you have our top starting tips to network and how to get involved in the industry, feel free to practice your networking skills on the Elevate team as we are always open for a chat. Call us on 07 3180 3666 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.