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Get Your Swagger Back For In-Person Networking Events

July 25, 2021

ou’re participating from behind a screen, online meetings may give you an increased sense of security and comfort because there are multiple ways to participate.  Now that in-person events are returning, the stress of walking into a room full of people, starting a good conversation, and making professional connections may feel overwhelming.

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With the advent of virtual events, you may have found yourself losing your touch when it comes to networking in person. 

Because you’re participating from behind a screen, online meetings may give you an increased sense of security and comfort because there are multiple ways to participate. 

But now that in-person events are returning, the stress of walking into a room full of people, starting a good conversation, and making professional connections may feel overwhelming, 

However, there are five things you can do before your next networking event to bring back your confidence and sharpen your networking skills. 

5 Networking Tips To Prepare For Your Next In-Person Event 

If you’ve attended in-person networking events before, you probably have a good idea of what’s expected. The secret to networking success is to focus on making human connections. You need to make eye contact, shake hands, and facilitate small talk. 

However, if it’s been a while or this is your first time attending a networking meet-up, you’ll need to do some preparation to ensure the event is successful. 

Here are five tips you can use to prepare for your in-person networking event to help calm your nerves and help make meeting people in person less stressful. 

  1. Use Social Media To Initiate New Connections

Most in-person networking events utilize online registration and use social media platforms to promote their event. 

By doing a little research in these areas, you’ll be able to pinpoint possible connections and ensure a good first impression. 

Once you register, look at the guest list and social media pages connected to the event. You will be able to see who else is planning to attend. You can even reverse engineer the event hashtags to see who is using them and what their content looks like. 

As you research, identify specific people to look for during the icebreaker or other networking event activities that may offer promising new connections. Check out their LinkedIn profile to see what talking points you can use to make introductions. 

  1. Develop A Good Introduction

Plan a narrative that communicates your pertinent professional and academic experiences. You want your introduction to be engaging and draw in your new contact. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you formulate the best introduction. 

  • What Are My Skills And Strengths In This Industry?
  • What Internships/Jobs Am I Looking For? 
  • Why Am I Interested In This Internship/Job? 
  • What is My Work, Academic, And Extracurricular Experience Related To This Field?

Once you’ve brainstormed, highlight the most exciting parts of your responses and use them to craft your introduction. Make sure to incorporate a unique tidbit that will stick in your new connection’s mind. 

  1. Update Your Business Cards

A staple at any in-person networking event is the business card exchange. 

Since it may have been a while since you attended a live networking event, you need to update the contact information on your business cards. 

Updating paper business cards is time-consuming. So, if you have left it to the last minute, consider building a digital business card instead. 

A digital business card is a shareable file that contains all the information you would put on a paper business card and more. You can go beyond the basic contact information and include links to your website, LinkedIn page, and even resources you find helpful. 

Having a virtual business card on your mobile device allows you to share your information at a moment's notice and update it as needed with no wait time. 

It also shows the other person you are up to date on the latest technology and cares about your image. 

  1. Learn Some Conversation Starters 

Online networking events typically have a host or moderator that facilitates virtual networking. 

However, during in-person networking events, participants are often left to mingle independently, and breaking the ice for the first time can be intimidating. 

If this makes you feel apprehensive, calm your nerves by preparing some conversation starters. Once you’ve made formal introductions, here are some ways to get the conversation flowing and develop a personal connection. 

  • Offer A Compliment: Give a positive comment about their attire, bag, or haircut. This sets a positive tone. 
  • “Have You…..” Ask if they have read any good books or listened to any interesting podcasts lately. 
  • Tell Me More: Prompt your new connection to tell you a little about themselves, such as where they grew up and whether they have any pets. 
  • Elevator Pitch: Once the conversation is flowing, you can work in your elevator pitch when the time is right.

 Naturally, every interaction will be different, but having these points in mind will help forge new solid relationships. 

Remember to practice active listening and facilitate a good back and forth within the conversation. If the other person fails to ask about you, chances are this isn’t a connection that will benefit you, so feel free to move on to the next person. 

  1. Remember The Essential Follow Up

Relationship networking is about more than the actual event. Prepare to follow up with each new contact in a week or two. 

Organize the new contact information and make notes about each conversation soon after the event. Maybe your new connection is looking for new sales technology or told you about a job opening that’s about to post. This will make the follow-up process much smoother.

You can send an email, text message, or make a phone call to check-in and see how they are doing. Job seekers could follow up to schedule a job interview at this time if the contact offered it.

Remember that all new relationships should be mutually beneficial, and not all will yield an excellent professional connection.

 By following up, you will show that you are interested in cultivating a personal connection that matters and willing to help others.  

Improve Your Networking Skills For Your Next In-Person Networking Event 

Expanding your personal and professional networks allows you to develop a pool of new connections that can be called upon in your time of need. 

Face-to-face networking offers you the chance to use eye contact, body language, and the art of conversation to quickly tell whether or not there is potential for relationship building. 

So as you venture out to in-person networking events, remember that humans are social creatures who thrive when they work together. 

Always be ready to help others as you grow your network. It will feel good to be back to live networking. 

FAQs

What are some common mistakes when building a personal brand? 

Ignoring social media, lacking brand storytelling, and an uninteresting personal website are common mistakes made while building a personal brand

Will a personal network help my career? 

Yes, building your network will help position you for referrals, advice, and new opportunities. 

Should I shake hands at an in-person networking event? 

It depends on the safety protocols. Always follow in-person event guidelines and suggestions for attendee safety. 

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