Attending networking events can be intimidating, even if you are a seasoned pro. You have etiquette to worry about, files you might misplace, and names to remember. But no worries: We’ve put together some handy networking hacks to help your big day of connections go a little more smoothly.
Take photos of business cards
It’s hard to keep track of the piles of business cards you get from different networking events. They end up in the bottom of your bag, in the back of your cell phone case or in your pockets (then through the wash). Instead, take photos of all the business cards you receive and create an album on your mobile device.
Carry a pen and paper
Even though we live in a world of tablets and cell phones, they aren’t always as dependable. Having a pen also allows you to make notes on the business cards you receive to help you remember each person.
Make a statement with your outfit
When you’re at a networking event, it can be difficult hard to keep track of the people you meet. And as important as it is for you to remember your new acquaintances, it’s equally important that they remember you. Wearing something identifiable (but still professional) can help, such as a bright-colored blouse or polka dot bow tie.
Wear comfy shoes
Your shoes are arguably the more important part of your wardrobe when it comes to professional business events. It’s hard to look good and be comfortable, but the last thing you need is for your feet to be so sore that you’re stuck sitting down. Make sure your shoes are comfy and broken-in (save those new heels for another day!). Consider buying insoles for your shoes and pack Band-Aids just in case.
Save yourself from an embarrassing moment
Nobody wants to be stuck with a stained shirt, messy hair or fur or lint all over her black pants (preach, pet owners!). Pack a portable stain remover, lint roller, hairbrush or anything else that you feel may come in handy. If you have long hair, packing extra clips can be useful.
Still not feeling confident? Check out the Facebook group or online event page to see who else will be attending. Try looking them up on LinkedIn and connecting with them prior to the event. Having a short conversation with people beforehand can make you feel more confident when you have to approach them IRL.
Make a target list
Often networking events have hundreds of attendees, which can be completely overwhelming. You’re never going to meet everyone that is attending, but having a list of the people you really would like to meet and chat with can be helpful. Again, take a look at who is attending, what they do, and why it is beneficial for you to connect with them. Having a hard time spotting them at the event? Find them on Twitter and let them know a place you can meet up!