The most common mantra heard from job search experts around the globe is network, network, network. Job seekers everywhere are given advice over and over about the power and necessity of networking. And I certainly do not disagree. Networking, like so many other things, can be a very powerful piece of a job search strategy. But what do you do at networking events? How do you go about ensuring that you are leaving a lasting impression? I’ve compiled a short list of things you must have at a networking event to be able to work the room properly.
Business Cards Every person should have business cards. They can be professionally done or printed from your home computer (as long as they look professional). Either way, be sure to have a large stack handy and ready to pass out as the opportunity arises. Always, always ask for the business card of any individual you are talking too and be sure to give one of yours.
Breath Mints The quickest way to turn someone off and have them not hear a word you say is to kill them with your breath. You may have the best elevator speech around, but if the person is doing everything they can to get away from your breathing patter, they aren’t listening.
Ice Breaker You wouldn’t want to walk up to someone and just start talking about yourself so you’ll need to figure out a good ice breaker that lets you walk up to people and start a conversation. It could be asking them about the event, the weather, what they do for a living or if the food is good. Whatever you are comfortable with, just something that breaks the ice.
A Way to Take Notes Depending on the event one could meet a lot of people who they want to follow up with later. Collecting business cards is great, but if you have no way of remembering why you want to connect further with that person then they won’t get you very far. Be sure to have some way to take notes (phone, notepad etc) and jot down a few thoughts about why and how you want to connect with someone at a later date. Then when you get back to your computer you’ll have notes to help you create the perfect follow up email or phone call.
A Plan I’m bad about this one. I will go into a networking event with little thought and then leave wondering what I was doing wrong. Having a plan helps you stay focused on the objective, how you are going to meet it and how you will access your success. Thinking ahead of time about what you want this networking meeting to accomplish, the types of people you want to meet, the number of follow-ups you hope to receive, will help you be more deliberate in your networking. Going into any part of a job search willy-nilly is never a good idea and the same holds true for networking.
So those are my top five things you must bring to a networking event. What would you add? Have you attended any good networking events lately? What were they and what contacts did they bring you? I’d love to hear from you.