How to Network At Events

 Networking Events and how to network

I work with really, really smart people who for some reason don’t believe me when I tell them that 70-80% of all jobs are never posted. Yup 70-80%! What that means is that sending your resume into a black hole is going to be WAY less effective than having one meaningful conversation with someone.

I try to impress on my clients that networking is imperative. That it’s a must-do. Now, I know you hate networking. Everyone hates networking. But if you look at it as a way to help other people by connecting them to that person who can get them their dream gig… boom

- it becomes a fun, heart-warming, do good activity and not a smarmy sell-yourself, make it rain business cards, gross-fest.

That said, even if you get in the right mindset about it, official networking events can be really intimidating. It is easier to network at smaller, less official event - but what do you do when you need to go to an “official” Networking Event?

Here are my 20 tips to make these events valuable, way less awkward and yes… even fun! (I know crazy right?)

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20 Tips to Make Networking Events Way Less Sucky:

1) Set a goal to have 1, 2 or 3 meaningful conversations… TOTAL.

2) Yes, wear the dumb name tag (on the right side if possible) it’s really helpful for

those who struggle with names.

3) Remind yourself of the value you offer!

4) Smile, but not all Joker creepy-like. Keep it genuine.

5) This is the time to be your best self and to listen. Meaningful networking

Means offering value and help to others, not just grabbing at anyone who can help you.

6) Say “hi” to anyone you know to get comfortable in the space and to get chatting - but keep it short and sweet.

7) Take a lap around the space. Check out who’s where, what’s where, etc.  

8) Keep your right hand free for shaking hands (AKA keep your left hand free to hold the booze!)

9) The key to connecting is listening, asking open-ended questions and genuinely listening to the answers. Start with questions like, “What brought you here tonight?”

10) Offer your valuable help! After chit chatting for a bit, ask, “How best can I help you?” or “What’s your biggest pain-point right now?”

11) Introduce any people you know to other people you know.

12) If you’ve forgotten someone’s name (and they didn’t bother with the name tag) - be honest about it: “We met last year at the vodka launch, right? Of course, I remember you, but I’m sorry I’ve forgotten your name.”

13) Have your business cards in an easily grabbable spot (yes, actual cards).

14) It’s ok to break into conversations, especially in larger groups. Go ahead - introduce yourself.

15) Ending one on one conversations can be awkward - just hand over your card in a lull and say that you’d love to keep in touch, learn more etc. or you can say that you want to connect with a few more people before the event ends and ask for their card before scurrying off

16) Even if it’s a boozy event, it’s ok not to drink! Or, if appropriate - go to town! Just beware of punch mouth.

17) Avoid sticking to the walls with your face in your phone. Get yourself out there!

18) Try not to go to these things on an empty stomach - because you want to focus on the conversations, not the tray of shrimp balls

19) If you can introduce yourself to the organizer of the event, do it!

20) Go with the goal of helping others and being “authentic” means you’ll form more genuine connections and build meaningful relationships.

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Phew. I know that was a lot right? But look, I don’t care what industry you work in, what role you have, what your goals are -- you HAVE TO network. There are so many ways to network - find one that works for you. Totally online? Fine. Only in person? Great. Speed networking at hyper-specific conferences? You do you. Just do something. 


Yours in career goodness-

EB Sanders