Networking is an opportunity to make new connections that can benefit you when you’re looking for internships and jobs. It’s not always easy to strut into an event in professional garb with resumé in hand when you don’t know anyone. Although the whole ordeal can appear frightening, here’s a few tips to make a nerve-wracking networking event more laid-back.
1. Go to events that you’re interested in
Networking is already daunting enough, so why not choose to attend events that correlate with your interests and career goals? You’ll be able to speak more confidently on topics that you’re interested in, and since everyone there has the same interests, you’ll already have something in common to strike up a conversation with people there.
2. Come prepared
Be aware of who will be attending the events and even pick out people you’d like to speak to. Think of some open-ended questions you’d like to ask people, and have business cards ready to give your contact information to the people you talk to.
3. Plan out an “elevator pitch”
An elevator pitch is a 20-30 second summary of your background and experience that shows who you are, what your interests are, and what you want to do. It should be direct but needs to include information that sparks interest. Essentially, you should use an elevator pitch to introduce yourself to people you meet at networking events that you are seeking to make connections with.
4. Speak to groups rather than individuals
Ease into networking by approaching small groups. Conversation tends to flow smoothly in group conversations and can lead to you speaking one-on-one with someone you might not have approached alone.
5. Bring a friend
Having someone you know by your side can make the situation more comfortable than showing up to an event alone.
6. Have an objective
What do you want to get out of networking? Go into the event with a goal in mind, whether it’s to talk to a specific person or just simply leave the event with a new contact you didn’t expect to encounter before.
7. Use social media
Although the most common type of networking is done face-to-face, social media is a resourceful tool to help get you in contact with a potential employer or colleague. After you leave, be sure to connect with the people you met on LinkedIn to stay in touch.
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