Building professional relationships and expanding your network offers many benefits, including discovering new partners, customers, employers, or employees. Professional networking is particularly important prior to as well as when you begin your job search. Networking offers you the opportunity to make influential connections that may lead to new job opportunities that might have otherwise been missed.
Be Mindful of Your Personality
Networking is different for introverts and extroverts. Be aware of what makes you feel most comfortable at networking events and which types of events work best for you. Attending networking events when you are not in the midst of a job search allows you the opportunity to be more confident and comfortable. Feeling comfortable will help you put on your best face and, in turn, help you make the best possible impression with connections in that scenario.
Attending networking events is important, but it is equally important to be properly prepared for the event you attend. Know who is attending the event and prepare a “target list” of individuals or companies that you want to meet with. Dress appropriately for the type of event, have enough business cards to hand out, and arrive early to ensure that you make the most of the time you have. Take the time to listen carefully to each person you interact with and build your conversation accordingly. People like to talk about themselves, and when you show genuine interest, you make positive first impressions.
Volunteering at networking events is a great, low-pressure way to connect with other people attending the event. By volunteering to set up the event or run the registration booth, you have a task that is easy to focus on and encourages you to interact with other attendees without the pressure of having to go up to strangers and try to engage in conversation. Use your volunteer position as an opportunity to ask each person you interact with a few questions and give them your business card.
After the event, take the time to follow up with the connections you feel offer you the greatest opportunities, whether those opportunities are for new jobs or potential clients. Remember to follow up with connections that you can provide assistance to; these connections can turn into opportunities in the future. Use LinkedIn as an easy follow up tool, but be sure to use a personalized message when sending your request. Once your connection accepts, send an additional follow up message inviting them out to drinks or coffee at their convenience. To avoid having your new connections go stale, try to arrange one of these in-person meetings at least once a quarter.
If you are searching for new opportunities, or if you want some tips on how to optimize your networking strategy, schedule an appointment with one of our recruitment specialists today.