Networking events are a great way to meet new people, learn from interesting speakers or leaders, and get your name out there. But that doesn’t make them easy. There are a number of traps that people can fall into during networking events. Introducing yourself to new people can be daunting, and knowing what you want to get out of a networking event can be confusing. (A business card? A job?) To get rid of ambiguity (and awkwardness) before your next event, keep reading for 5 tips that will help you flourish the next time you find yourself in a room of future LinkedIn connections.
Make A Plan
You wouldn't go into a business meeting without doing your research. So why not apply the same methodology to a networking event? Make a plan of attack for the event before you go. Set yourself some goals so that you know exactly what you want to get out of it. These goals could range from anything like, make sure you speak to “x” amount of people, or introduce yourself to specific people who you know will be there. Sites like Meetup.com often have public guest lists so it’s easy to see who you might be networking with and do a little Googling. Being prepared adds a level of accountability for you and ensures that you'll make the most of the opportunity.
Leave Your Comfort Blanket at Home
It’s not often these days that we walk up to a room full of strangers, by ourselves, and strike up a conversation. But we should. We all have the tendency (myself included) to go with a friend or two and either speak to them for the evening or rely on them to make introductions. Instead, use this time as an opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Approach people and introduce yourself. If that sounds daunting, just remember that everyone is there to network. When it boils down to it, you are in control of where your careers goes so it’s important to be self-reliant and independent.
Ask A Question
Depending on the format of an event, they tend to open the floor up for questions at some point, especially if there’s a keynote speaker or panel discussion. This is a great opportunity for a little personal PR. The chances are, the room will be filled with people in your industry or an industry you would like to be in. So why not introduce yourself to the room and put the speaker’s knowledge to the test (politely, of course). Speakers want to engage on the topics they’ve discussed. Don’t be shy about raising your hand in the air (and wave it like you just don’t care!).
Share On Social Media
Whether you have 50+ connections of 500+ connections on LinkedIn, there’s a good chance you’ve built up a professional network of people who are interested in similar topics and events. That makes LinkedIn the perfect platform for sharing links to event pages, upcoming meetups, or even photos and reflections from an event you’ve just attended. If you see something that appeals to you or may appeal to your network, share the love.
Companies typically host events to give back to the community, create awareness about their brand, and share ideas. But they also host each one in hopes of it being better than the last. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. From the food to the format, every aspect of an event needs feedback. If something didn't sit well with you or you think something could be improved, say it. In some cases, a company will send out a survey afterwards. If not, email the organizer to say thank you and add some constructive feedback. These events are delivered with the attendee in mind and your feedback is vital in ensuring they stay relevant and live up to your expectations.
Originally published on January 25, 2018 by HubSpot. Jenny is the Content and Events Coordinator for HubSpot based in Dublin. She works on all the recruitment marketing from Social, PR, Content and Events and everything in between.