Learning how to network is one of the most powerful skills a person can have. Becoming successful at networking can land you your dream job, get you promoted, help you to become close to industry leaders, or simply provide a way for you to learn from or help others.
On Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending Help a PR Pro Out (#HAPPO) event in NYC. It was a great opportunity to meet a bunch of communications professionals and establish new relationships. However, walking into a room full of new people can be intimidating if you don’t have a plan. Successful networking takes more than just showing up with a smile. These tips can help:
Do Your Research. Before attending an event, take time to look up what the event is about, who will be there, and develop a list of key people that you desire to speak with. Most of the time, there is so much going on at an event, that it’s easy to lose track of time, and sometimes the people you wanted to speak with might be sneaking out the door. Make it your first priority to find these people early on, that way you don’t miss the opportunity to make a connection.
Know Yourself, and Your Subject. It seems like a no-brainer, but knowing who you are and being able to get your point across quickly and effectively is an art. If you don’t know your purpose, it’s going to be hard to develop relationships. Take time to brainstorm reasons why you are attending, and what your goals are. Coming up with a 60-second elevator pitch on your subject will make it easy to hold conversation, and draw in the right people.
Be Prepared. Bring business cards! Looking for a job? Bring resumes! There is nothing worse than succeeding at getting someone’s attention, and then not being prepared when they ask you for a business card. “Running out” of business cards is unprofessional and gives the impression that you are unprepared and disorganized.
Speak With As Many People As Possible. After you reach out to your target list of people, use your time to work your way around the room, meeting as many new people as possible. You may find something you were looking for, or someone you never thought to connect with could be looking for you.
Follow-Up. After the event, be sure to review your new list of contacts and make notes about what you discussed or interesting information you shared. Be sure to e-mail them and thank them for their time and to let them know you enjoyed meeting them.
Stay In Touch. From time to time, e-mail or call your new contacts to touch base. Use industry news as a way to connect by passing along articles which may be relevant to them. Keep tabs via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If your contact changes companies or gets a promotion, use the opportunity to congratulate them on the news.