Last time, you learned what to do before you attend a networking event as part of an overall job search strategy. In this installment, let’s get to the fun part - execution and follow up.
Here are some key points to consider while you’re at the networking event:
- Dress (and groom) professionally, head to toe. Dress for the position you are seeking, or inspirationally, one level higher. With that said, the most important accessory to wear is a SMILE (start to finish) no one wants to talk with the guy or gal who looks completely unapproachable. Do your best to get in the proper frame of mind and expect to enjoy yourself.
- Often, there will be a list of attendees available at the registration table and/or name badges laid out for attendees. Plan on arriving early in order to scan for names of people or companies you'd like to seek out during the event.
- After you perfect your elevator speech, step out of your comfort zone and practice it! People attend car races to see crashes; they attend hockey games to see fist fights; they attend networking events expecting to meet others. Don't be shy. There is a surprisingly low level of rejection at these events. Additionally, if you are going to swim with the sharks, you should behave like one and keep moving, make as many new contacts as possible.
- Be sure to hand out your business cards and collect cards of those you speak to. If you don't have a company-issued card, make up your own to include your pertinent contact information. Also, if the event supplies conventional name tags with microscopic print, bring your own. It should be bold and easy to read. I’ve seen this done, and it’s a great ice-breaker. People find it clever that someone stepped out of the box to stand-out.
- Stick around until the end and the crowds thin out. I've had some great encounters while heading out to the parking lot or to the subway. People are often winding down and become more relatable and personable when leaving an event.
Now that you’ve successfully networked in person and made contacts, don’t stop here. It’s time to follow-up:
- Within a day or two, reach out to your new "besties" via email or LinkedIn. Remind them where you met and show sincere appreciation for their time. Let them know you’re in search of a job. In some instances, it may even be appropriate to attach a resume in your communication. Don’t be shy.
- If you don’t receive a response within a few days, don't hesitate to pick up the phone. You'd be surprised how few of your "competition" overlook this simple but effective approach. Once you have them on the phone, remind them of who you are and ask whether they have any tips or referrals for your search.
Okay, now that you've finished reading this, power down, get up and out, and network! Good luck and have fun.