As the fall season quickly approaches, professional organizations are beginning to host more networking events.
Whether you’re a student looking for a mentor or internship, or you’re a professional looking for a job, networking is important regardless of where you are in your career. Networking is essential to advancing your career goals by building relationships with influential people who can assist you in your journey.
To ensure you're successful in establishing new connections within your industry, here are seven ways to nail your next networking event.
While networking events typically occur after work hours, this doesn't mean that professionalism should go out the door. Remember to dress professionally (suit, cocktail dress, heels, etc.) as this is your first impression on this group of people, which could include a future employer or boss. Don’t dress like you’re about to go to the club after.
Leave your resume at home
Sure, your ultimate goal in attending a networking event may be to get a job, but passing out your resume is not the best way to go about it. Resumes exude desperation, and plus, no one wants to hold on to a resume throughout an event. It will likely get crumpled or thrown away. Business cards are the preferred method of establishing connections and follow-up meetings or interviews.
Be polite to everyone
Just because someone isn't in the C-suite doesn't mean you should lose interest in speaking with them. It’s impolite, and implies you don't believe they are worth speaking to. Plus, you never know – they may be the next CEO of the company and they will remember how you treated them before they got to the top.
Meet people strategically
The old adage “quality over quantity” applies to networking as well. Trying to meet everyone at the networking event is exhausting and ineffective. The purpose of networking is establishing strong relationships to help you advance your career. You can’t build strong connections with everyone, so use your time (and theirs) wisely.
Don't get drunk
Networking events typically involve food and drinks to lighten up the atmosphere. While free or cheap alcohol specials may seem like a win-win situation, make sure to avoid inebriation. Remember, you came to the event to network with fellow peers and even get a job or make a connection with a major executive. If you’re slurring your words or become too intoxicated, you're not leaving a good impression on anyone you meet, and hurting your chances of a potential job opportunity.
Follow up with your connections
The purpose of attending these events is to build relationships with people in your industry. If you're lucky enough to have a strong connection with someone at the event, make sure to follow up with a quick email after the event to thank them for their time and maybe even to continue your conversation over coffee. Don't expect them to follow up with you; your future success is dependent on you, not anyone else.
Don't be a stalker
While you should follow up with your connections, be careful not to become a stalker. Don't send multiple emails or messages a day; a follow-up email every few weeks to connect is the best way to establish a strong connection without becoming too pushy.
¡Buena suerte, amigas!
Sasha Monik Moreno is a Founding Creator and career and education blogger. When she's not sharing her advice on Vivala, you can find her at themodernlatina.com.