Networking is a cornerstone of career advancement and business growth. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting your journey, effective networking can open doors to valuable relationships. In our experience at Presso Network, networking has been instrumental in the creation and success of our event app. However, the art of networking requires preparation to be effective, especially if it's been a while since you've engaged in a networking event. This checklist will ensure you're well-prepared for your next networking endeavor.
1. Know Where You're Going
Event Insight: Familiarise yourself with the event details including its purpose, location, industry focus, dress code, and agenda. You can usually find this information on the event page or through the hosting organisation's communications.
Event Type: Understand the format of the event—is it a casual meetup, a professional conference, a trade show, or a structured networking event? This will help set your expectations and prepare accordingly.
2. Know Who's Going to Be There
Research Attendees: Utilize the guest list or networking apps like Presso Network to research attendees, speakers, and organizations present. Identify individuals you'd like to connect with and learn a bit about their professional background.
Speaker Insights: Look into the speakers' profiles, their expertise, and the topics they will be discussing. This will help in striking meaningful conversations
Event App: Every modern event should have an app - if the event you're attending is offering an app, be sure to download it and set up your profile a good week in advance of the event to get the most out of it.
3. Know What Your Goals Are:
Set Clear Objectives: Whether it's making new connections, seeking job opportunities, finding potential clients, or gaining industry insights, having clear goals will steer your networking efforts in the right direction.
4. Dress to Impress
Professional Attire: Dressing professionally is crucial, but also wear something that makes you feel confident and comfortable. Your attire should resonate with the event's ambiance and your professional persona.
Be Yourself: Even thought it's a professional event, be sure you dress to the occassion in a way that shows your own personal style and vibe. Dress to be the unique you that you want people to see.
Peacocking: Some say dress to stand out, and that's what peacocking is. Wearing something out of the ordinary can be a great conversation starter, but before you bring your pet parrot on your shoulder, do consider who the people you're aiming to meet are
5. Carry Business Cards
Accessibility: Always have more business cards than you think you'll need. Keep them easily accessible in a card case to maintain a professional demeanor when exchanging contact information.
Keep it Digital: Also make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, and link it to the event app if available, as this is often what most people will check first after they meet you.
6. Master Your Introduction
Effective Introduction: Introduce yourself with a smile, maintain eye contact, and share your name and professional title. Listen attentively to others when they introduce themselves, using their name in the conversation to show your interest.
7. Follow Up
Maintain Connections: Post-event follow-up is crucial. Send personalised emails or messages expressing your gratitude for the interaction and proposing next steps for mutual benefit.
Keep Notes: You'll be meeting a lot of people at networking events and it's almost impossible to remember who everyone were. A good habit to get into is to write a small note on their business cards, so you can remember who they are, what you spoke about and why you should follow up.
Add Them on LinkedIn: When you get a minute or two to yourself after the event, open your laptop and add them on LinkedIn. Why on the laptop, because when you connect via the laptop, you get the option to attach a small note to your connect request to let them know who you are and where you met. This is why you write a note on the business card, simply pop that in there and send the request.
8. Learn and Adapt
Reflect on Experiences: Post-event reflection on what went well and what didn't is crucial for improving your networking skills. Keep a networking journal to note down successful strategies and areas of improvement.
9. Engage in Online Networking
Digital Presence: Besides in-person networking, engage with professionals online through platforms like LinkedIn. Share insights, comment on relevant posts, and maintain an active professional profile.
10. Offer Value
Mutual Benefit: Always think about how you can add value to the people you meet. Offer help, share insights, or connect them with someone who can assist them in their endeavors.
Networking is a continual learning process. By preparing adequately, setting clear objectives, and being genuinely interested in creating meaningful connections, you'll become more adept at building a robust professional network that can significantly impact your career and business growth.