How To Prepare For A Networking Event: 5 Tips To Set Yourself Up For Success
Today’s guest post is brought to you by the team at Harry’s.
Many people don’t understand the importance of or how impactful networking events can be, likely as a way to justify avoiding what is often considered an awkward and uncomfortable situation of forced interactions.
However, in a world where most interactions now include hitting heart buttons, likes, and making virtual comments, face-to-face communication is becoming more valued when it comes to making true connections, especially when it comes to job leads.
In fact, 85% of jobs are filled through networking. Eighty. Five. Percent.
And the event doesn’t necessarily need to be billed as a networking event to be, well, a networking event. There are conferences and festivals like SXSW where people from a variety of disciplines come together. Where there are like-minded people, there are networking opportunities. In fact, these not-strictly-a-networking-event events are probably the best opportunities to network, because people want real, genuine conversation that’s not necessarily coerced or manufactured.
While the relationship-building will happen in real-time at the event, you need to do some prep work ahead of time to set yourself up to succeed at making quality connections.
1. Prepare Your Look
How you look matters. 72% of people agree that their impressions are shaped by how someone appears. However, interviews and networking events don’t have to mean that you sacrifice your individual sense of style. The trick is showing off the more professional, polished version of your personality.
If you love wearing bold colors, be bold! But consider pairing something like a bright shirt with a neutral black blazer. I had a friend who, when dressing for an interview, wore a blue pinstripe pant suit paired with subtle tan leopard-printed loafers. Her outfit was chic yet professional, and a great example of incorporating a unique personality into a classic, business professional look.
For guys, this is the time to plan out your grooming routine in advance. Whether you sport facial hair or not, make sure everything is neat and tidy. If you need a fresh shave, make sure you use a new razor. Ensure you always have new ones on hand by signing up for a subscription service like Harry’s, who will regularly send you their line of shaving products. Blades quickly accumulate dirt and rust, which dulls them and causes nicks — not exactly the look you want to be remembered for.
Also, don’t try new makeup or skincare in the days leading up to or the day of the event. Allergic reactions to cosmetic products are on the rise, and the last thing you want is to have to deal with a rash that will work quickly to steal your confidence.
2. Know Your Goals
Another confidence-stealer is showing up to an event and realizing you don’t actually know what you want to get out of it. “Networking” isn’t a super tangible or clear action. What does that look like? How many people should I aim to connect with? What types of people do I want to meet? What am I looking to get out of these relationships?
If possible, research key attendees before the event and write down who you must speak to before leaving. Have a clear number of connections you want to make so you know what you’re working towards.
3. Pack The Essentials
So many of us are used to having most everything we need on our phones, but when it comes to attending a networking event, it’s better to go a little more old school. Make sure your business card has your current and updated information, and if applicable, have a portfolio of some of your work ready to share.
Keep this in a *pocketed binder with your resume and blank pieces of paper, and have a plan for where you’ll put the cards (*in the binder pocket!) and other information you collect. It’s critical to keep all contact information organized so that you can craft a meaningful follow-up. Jot down notes about people who make an impression on you for you to use later in an email or phone call.
4. Practice Your Presentation
By presentation, I don’t mean that you need to come packing a powerpoint. Please don’t. However, you should have a series of talking points planned. I know it can be awkward to talk about yourself, but imagine your career as a highlight reel. What would be on it? Where do you want to go? Have an answer for where you see yourself in the future.
Also, don’t be above literally practicing in the mirror. Coming off as confident has a lot to do with your posture and body language, and we don’t often realize how much we slump, round our shoulders, or generally hold ourselves in insecure ways. For daily practice, consider installing a simple reminder like postureminder on your computer.
5. Learn to Relax
Networking events, or simply going to an event with the goal to network, can bring on bouts of anxiety for just about everyone. What many of us may not realize, however, is that confidence and calmness are both skills we can practice and get better at.
Meditation, for example, has been shown to have nearly endless mental health and well-being benefits, including anxiety reduction and increased confidence. Consider beginning a mindfulness practice to prep yourself. Apps help.
There are also a number of breathing exercises you can do when in the midst of a stressful situation to calm your nervous system. Practice going to social outings or putting yourself in somewhat uncomfortable situations to begin getting used to and learning how to calm your body and mind’s knee-jerk responses.
At the end of the day, you’re a person going to meet other people for similar reasons. Remember that they’re probably just as nervous as you, and you’re all in the same boat. Take comfort in that.
Networked like a politician during the election period but to no avail? Not to worry, we’ve got plenty of jobs to choose from right here 👇
This article was written by the team at Harry’s. A company who’s products are are designed to be effective and provide a great experience to their customers.The company also believes in doing good for their customers and the community more broadly. As part of that effort, Harry’s sets aside a percentage of their sales, and a lot of their time, for charitable organizations.