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The ultimate guide to networking
Step 1: Before the networking event
Find the right event for you
There are lots of networking events out there and many of them will be tailored to specific topics, industries or countries. Make sure you pick one that applies to you and that also interests you, so that you’ll be able to share your thoughts with the people you meet. The European Job Days website is a good starting point if you want to know what events are coming up.
Prepare your ‘elevator’ pitch
While networking isn’t all about selling yourself, it can be a good idea to have a short pitch prepared about who you are and what you could bring to a potential employer. Focus on relevant skills and experience, but also what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date
If the people you meet want to find out more about you, LinkedIn is probably the first place they’ll look. Keeping your profile up-to-date will help to ensure that you make the best possible impression and fully showcase your skills and experience.
Check the list of speakers and attendees (if you can)
Knowing who else is attending the event can help you plan how to spend your time in advance. You can identify specific people you’d like to talk to or specific sessions you’d like to attend, which will help to ensure that you get the most out of the event as possible.
Step 2: During the networking event
Networking can be a daunting prospect, but the rewards are worth the risk so don’t let nerves get the better of you! Make sure that you talk to people and start developing those valuable connections that are, after all, the reason you’re at the event in the first place. If the event has a dedicated hashtag, then getting involved through social media can also be a great way to engage with the people around you.
Break the ice
You might know the people you’re approaching or you might not. Either way, a good ice-breaker could be to ask them about their work or company, and share your interest in what they do. While you’ll obviously want to share your own background and skills at some point, it’s a good idea to avoid launching into your ‘elevator’ pitch right away as some people may find this off-putting.
Ask for – and hand out – business cards
While some people may offer you their business cards directly others might not, so don’t be afraid to ask for one, particularly if it’s someone that really interests you. Having their contact information is a vital part of the post-event follow-up.
Equally, make sure that you hand out your own so that they have your contact information and a handy reminder of who you are!
Step 3: After the networking event
This is probably the most important point of all – if you don’t follow up with the contacts you’ve made, then all the effort you’ve put into attending the event and making connections could come to nothing. Put the business cards you’ve gathered to good use and keep the conversation going!
Connect on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a giant online network and also one of the internet’s key recruitment hubs. By connecting with the people you’ve met, you’ll be able to show your interest in them and their work, while welcoming their contacts into your own network. It’s also worth sending them a personalised message that relates to the event, to help them identify where they know you from and to kick-start a continuation of your conversation.
If you’re wondering what the benefits of networking are, then be sure to check out What can networking do for me? And if your networking has led you to an interview then 5 tips for acing your interview is a great read.
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