Niamh Ennis on how to network for success.
Think about what the desired outcome for you will be at the end of the event. How will you measure your own success? When you have clarity around your own personal goal for the event, it will help you be more focused and definitely much more productive.
Try and aim to make three to five meaningful connections, or if there is one specific person you want to meet, gather as much information about them and plan questions to ask them when they are standing in front of you. In the same way that you wouldn’t show up at an interview without preparing, don’t turn up at a networking event blind. Do your research.
Look through the list of speakers or even ask the organisers if it’s possible to get a list of attendees in advance, and identify some names on it that you would like to meet. If you know the individuals or companies that are likely to be present, you might feel a little less intimidated by the situation.
Listen. This may seem very obvious, but one of the most common mistakes we all make at networking events is talking too much. Nerves get the better of us and we fill the awkward silences with mindless chatter. Don’t be tempted to do this. Ask questions and wait for the answers. Once you get people talking about a topic that lights them up (usually themselves), they will love talking to you, and you can just sit back and listen, helping build an instant connection.
Networking events are only the beginning of a connection. It’s important you see them not as a standalone event, but as the start of something. If you don’t follow up with the people you meet, there’s no point in going in the first place. Drop them an email, add the new connections you made on LinkedIn, or even give them a call. If you want to, and it feels appropriate, you could arrange a one-to-one meeting where you can get to know each other better.
Street style photography by Stefan Knauer. This article originally appeared in the Spring issue of IMAGE Magazine.
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