It’s a buzzword you can’t escape: “networking.” There’s no shortage of networking events taking place in your area, but simply showing up to one of these schmooze-fests isn’t enough. We learned a few tricks to help you work the crowd and leave an event with the business card that will help you get your next job or promotion.
Listen to people
Pay attention to what people are doing, who they’re working with and what their background is. Bill Corbett Jr. is president of Corbett Public Relations, Inc. and has two decades of networking experience. “If somebody is pushy, they are not networking,” he says. “A businessperson needs to listen 80 percent of the time and speak 20 percent of the time. Learn to ask the right questions.”
Try to give the impression that you are completely at ease, even when you aren’t. If you relax, you will appear more approachable, and you’ll certainly enjoy yourself more. Having your phone out is distracting and can turn people off. “Put your electronic device away, and be engaged with everything that is going on around you,” says Christina Steinorth, psychotherapist and author of “Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships.” “If you’re constantly texting or talking on your smartphone, others will feel that you are only present at the event to go through the motions,” she adds.
Go for quality, not quantity
The goal is not to leave with your pockets stuffed with business cards. “Sometimes I have left networking events with more than 40 business cards. That’s way too many,” says Vicky Oliver, author of “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.” “It’s better to have two or three leads but then really follow up with them.” Speak with these people again and build a professional relationship; make them count.