Does the thought of networking make you nervous? Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one who feels this way! If you talk to most professionals today, you’ll find that many of them try to avoid networking events altogether. While these nerves are common, it’s important to remember that networking can be a valuable part of your career growth.
Even if you suffer from networking nerves, that doesn’t have to stop you from making a good impression! As long as you do some preparation beforehand, you should be able to leave a positive, lasting impression:
Do your research beforehand
Most networking events will provide you with information about the event beforehand. For example, if you are going to a job fair, the group that’s organizing it will likely have a list of companies that will be attending. Before you go, check to see who will be at the event and do some company research to help you plan out who you want to build connections with.
Memorize your elevator pitch
You never get a second chance at making a first impression. As a result, it’s important to prepare your elevator pitch, which is a 30-60 second summary of you, your goals, and what you can offer. While you don’t want to memorize it to the point of sounding robotic, knowing exactly how you want to portray yourself can help you sound more confident and self-assured than you may feel!
Proactively introduce yourself
Being responsible for introducing yourself can certainly elevate your anxiety. While it’s normal to feel this way, try and focus on how beneficial it can be to initiate a conversation. Being confident enough to make an introduction first cannot only leave a good impression, but it can also set the stage for a productive conversation!
Networking events can be overwhelming, and you may put pressure on yourself to meet with as many people as possible. Instead of focusing on quantity, however, you should pay close attention to the quality of the conversations you are having. To do this, be sure to engage in the conversation and ask questions. Some questions you can ask to show your interest are:
- What made you decide to take on your current role?
- What makes your role at your current company unique?
- What advice would you give to someone looking to break into your industry?
Since most people at networking events are looking to quickly make a connection and move onto the next opportunity, actually taking the time to get to know someone and their work can help set you apart.
Have business cards
It’s also critical that you make sure your new connections have something to remember you by after the event. In order to do this, you’ll want to come fully prepared with professional business cards to give out during the event. By providing a physical reminder of who you are, you’ll likely come to mind sooner than others should a new career opportunity come up!