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How to Make the Most of a Career Networking Event

March 16th, 2018

Networking. Most candidates dread it, yet at the same time, as leading Columbia recruiters, TRUE Group knows it’s essential for a successful job search. Unfortunately, it can be easy to spend your time at a luncheon, conference or seminar without getting anything out of it. But your time is too valuable. Instead, put these tips into action so you can leverage the real power of networking at your next event:

Set a goal.

Before you go to an event, have a goal in place so your efforts are focused. All you have to do is ask one simple question: Why am I going? Are you trying to hook up with a new vendor, find a different job or switch industries altogether? Do you want to make three new connections, or connect with a professional mentor? The more you know about what you want to accomplish, the more you’ll get out of the event.

Be prepared and professional.

Besides setting goals, another important step is to be prepared and professional. This means dressing in business attire and putting your best foot forward. If you look sloppy or disheveled, you’re not going to make a positive impression. Bring business cards with you to hand out when you meet potential new connections.

Find out who’s attending ahead of time.

Many times, with professional networking events, a list of attendees is available ahead of time. Make sure you review it beforehand and identify potential contacts you’d like to make. That way, you can focus your efforts on them, getting more out of time spent there.

Have an elevator pitch.

When you meet someone new, it’s important to have an effective introduction. One way to do that is through preparing an elevator pitch ahead of time. This is a 30-second speech in which you introduce yourself and quickly explain what you do. Time is limited at networking events, so you want to make the best impression possible on those who can impact your career. An elevator pitch will help you do that.

Listen.

If you’re naturally loquacious or nervous, it’s easy to be the one doing all the talking. But make sure you’re listening to what other people are saying. Don’t half listen while you think about the next point you want to make. Also, make sure you show interest in what the other person is saying. Don’t stifle a yawn, or look around the room or at your phone when they’re speaking.

Take notes.

In between meeting new people, take notes about your new contacts. Jot down some quick details on what you learned about them, so you can follow up personally after the event.

Follow up.

A couple of days after the networking event, make sure you reach out with an email or invitation to connect on LinkedIn. With whatever you send, it should be personalized, not a boilerplate communication you broadcast to a dozen people.

Networking can be one of your greatest assets during your job search. But you have to do it right. Follow the tips above and you can get the most from it. And if you’d like more help on finding a great job in South Carolina in 2018, read this post, or contact TRUE Group and connect with one of our expert recruiters.

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