How to Work the Room at Your Next Networking Event

Networking

Being successful in business is not just about having a solid skillset; it is often also about who you know. Making connections and maintaining relationships with the people who support you throughout your career can be the key to success for most individuals.

By effectively building a network of colleagues, business associates and more, you are ensuring that whenever you need a new client, a new job or to develop your skills further, you can call your network to help.

But at a networking event – where everyone you meet is sure to be meeting dozens of others, how do you make sure that you are memorable, even after the night is over?

Before the Event

Dress to Impress
When planning what to wear, select something professional. You will not make a good impression if you look disheveled, disorganized or overly casual. Pick something that makes you feel good about yourself – whether it is a great dress or new shoes. TheLadders, a career advice blog, has published dress code tips for several different networking occasions that you many encounter. However, no matter the occasion, make sure to wear something that will help you exude confidence in what can be an uncomfortable setting.

Bring Business Cards
This one may seem basic, but think of how many times you have heard someone say, “I just gave away my last one!” Bring more business cards than you think you will need and keep a stack of them in a card case so they won’t get crumpled in your purse or pocket. Keep them accessible, so you can get to them quickly.

While You Are There

Effective Introduction
As introductions can be awkward, a lot of people try to introduce themselves in as few words as possible. Yet the introduction is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from the pack. Instead of giving a typical 60 second rundown of what you do and how great you are, Yahoo suggests giving a 60 second explanation that proves your expertise. Talk about something that makes you stand out or that might make someone interested to learn more.

Make a list of exciting things you can share with others at the event, such as interesting projects you are working on or the fantastic book you just read. You do not want to throw all of them out rapid-fire to everyone you meet, but having a few interesting points prepped will give you some talking points as your conversations flow more naturally.

Show Interest
Sharing your story with new contacts is important, but be sure to listen too. Find people in industries or careers that you find interesting and ask them questions: How did they get their start? What do they love about their jobs, or what do they wish they could change? By taking an interest in your contact, you will make her feel valued and hopefully interested in continuing the relationship.

It is important not to let the conversation drag. To gracefully exit a conversation, identify a task that you have to do that allows you to step away, whether you have to greet a familiar face at the door or refill your beverage. It is not rude if you do not return, unless you told the person otherwise – it is just networking.

Post Event

Follow-Up
Networking events do not end once everyone heads home. Vicki Salemi, founder of Career Boot Camp for College Grads, suggests reaching out to your new contact while you are still fresh in their mind. Salemi says that ideally you have 24 to 48 hours to follow-up with whomever you just met. Plan to sit down the next day and send a brief email. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting them, follow up on anything you discussed at the event and then make it personal. Include an inside joke (if appropriate) or share an article you think they might like. This extra effort can be just what it takes to start a worthwhile relationship.

We want to hear from you: What are your best tips for being memorable at a networking event?

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