9 Ways to Make Networking Work for You

Many people become anxious and uncomfortable at the thought of networking.   Pitching yourself to a group of strangers is daunting, at best.

These 9 simple guidelines can help you overcome your apprehension and then you can start looking forward to your next networking event!networking-image

  1. Dress up, but be subtle. It’s common advice to “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  That being said, there is a difference between being classy and being flashy. You don’t want to be the person wearing neon yellow in a sea of black suits.  You can’t go wrong with black, navy, grey, or beige.  Just remember, the focal point should be what you’re saying, not what you’re wearing.
  1. Stay away from complimenting others’ outfits or appearances.  You may want to “break the ice” immediately by complimenting someone’s great style or accessory choices, but avoid doing this or you could spend the entire time talking about fashion instead of making a more valuable connection.
  1. Put effort into your nametag. A lot of research has been done on what your handwriting says about you.  In fact, a whole new term has been dedicated to the subject (“graphology”).  According to Visual.ly, your handwriting can reveal over 5,000 personality traits!  For example, if you connect your letters (like I do), “you are logical, systematic, and make decisions carefully.”  While you don’t need to memorize the entire webpage or change your writing, just make sure you write your name legibly – your penmanship says a lot about you.
  1. Do your research. See if the list of event attendees is available ahead of time.  It’s extremely easy to research people online – maybe someone else at the event went to your alma mater or shares your enthusiasm for online Scrabble.  This can be a great conversation starter and can help you prepare questions ahead of time.
  1. Prepare your “Elevator Pitch.” This is generally a 30-90 second statement in which you identify who you are, what you have to offer, and what you are looking for. You can pitch yourself, an idea or both.  Check out this video for an example.
  1. Offer help.  It’s often tempting to talk about yourself the entire time, but networking is a two-way street.  Ask questions, and see if there is anything you can do for the other person, even if that means connecting him or her with someone else in your network.

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  1. Remember names. This can be overwhelming, especially when you’re meeting a lot of new people all at once.  Try this: for example, when Ashley introduces herself , say “hi Ashley,” and as you are shaking her hand, picture the word “Ashley” in red letters on her forehead.  Trust me, it works! (Whatever you do, please don’t do this!)
  1. Stay positive.  Whether you’re attending a networking event in search of a job or for some other reason, be cognizant of what you say.  Like your mother probably used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”  Word travels quickly, so never speak poorly about a person or company.
  1. Follow up.  After the event is over, connect with the people you spoke to.  You can reach out in any number of ways, from e-mail to LinkedIn.  Start off by reintroducing yourself, and then touch on something you spoke about at the event.  Finally, make sure to suggest a way to keep in touch by asking a question, offering help or advice, introducing a third party, or even asking permission to send that person a link to your blog.  You never know where a relationship will lead.

Now that you have the know-how to succeed, get out there and start networking!

Still don’t know how to begin a conversation?  Talk about PBP’s interns and our great blog!

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