While platforms like LinkedIn have redesigned our idea of what professional networking looks like, attending IRL events might still be one’s best bet in breaking into the business world.
First impressions are oftentimes everything, but for those of us who understand social capital as something you acquire over 10 second Snapchats, making sense of how one should act at these events can be confusing. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you network like a pro.
Humans need to socialize every single day, and what better way to do it than this? Networking is a great opportunity to develop work skills and harvest relationships, but also fulfills that basic human requirement. So grab a provided snack and cocktail, and get chatting!
Make sure to do research before you show up. Who is most significant at this event to make contact with or hand a business card to? Do not get caught up in lengthy small talk with the guy from accounting if it is most important to put a face to a name with the head of marketing (unless those two happen to be best friends that spend weekends together). Use your time wisely.
Do: Show Face
Choose a string of consecutive events and attend as many as you can. Don’t be afraid to make sure nearly everyone in the room knows who you work for and that you and your colleagues always attend these events. Keep a positive presence, build relationships among your targeted companies, and most importantly – make friends. That’s what makes these things so fun.
Don’t: Be Unprofessional
As we all know, these events tend to be geared towards letting loose, as it can be tough to meet fifty or more strangers in an evening, and have to talk about yourself all night (except for sales people). Be careful. Know your limit and remember why you’re there. Represent X Company in a way even your CEO would be proud of. Being the cool guy as well as developing skills and relationship can go hand in hand.
Do: Develop and Progress
Many people at these events know about the latest trends and what’s hot. Pay attention, be inspired. These same people are confident and have stronger power statements from meeting and pitching to a variety of strangers again and again. Learn from them, practice these skills. There isn’t a better way to simply explain what X Company does than to have to say it over and over, with probing questions from outsiders in between.
Don’t: Be Scared
It is easy to be intimidated by these trendy, cool guy people, however, they are more similar to you than you think. It may be their first time too! Don’t think someone doesn’t have the time to learn what you do for X Company. What else are they here for? Though your intention was to make friends with the sponsor of the event, branching out might lead you to meet 6 or 7 more friends with similar significance. Just get after it.