Are you afraid of networking? If so, you are not alone. Entering a room full of people that you do not know can be quite intimidating. However, with a bit of preparation you can relieve the tension and prepare yourself for networking. Here are a few things that you can do before your next networking event to prepare.
Prepare Discussion Topics
One of the most common fears among networkers is starting a conversation. In order to overcome this fear think of things that you enjoy discussing such as books, movies, pets, kids, traveling, or hobbies. Mentally preparing yourself will help you start conversations much easier.
Know the Audience
When you are going to attend an event try to get a list of who is going to be there. If you cannot get a list of people attending the event beforehand, try to arrive at the event a bit early and ask the person organizing the event who is going to be there. Tell them who you want to meet. When you are at the event look for individuals that are associated with some of the organizations that you would like to work with. Creating a plan will give you a purpose and will eliminate your fear of walking aimlessly through the event.
Prepare your Message
Make sure that you know what you want to convey to the people that will be attending the event. When a person asks you what you do make sure that you are prepared to tell them the positions that you are looking for, what talents you have, and the companies that you are looking to work for. Your message should be short and to the point. Try practicing with a friend so that you are comfortable giving the speech to people attending the networking event.
The reason for networking is to create a relationship that is mutually beneficial. The only way to create that relationship is to follow up with the individual you made contact with. Make sure that you ask for at least an email address or a business card. When you are home develop some type of tracking system. Make sure that you have a system in place that you can and will use consistently. You should be able to find the person’s information easily when you need to.
Determine a Method for Following Up
It is important to have an idea of how you are going to follow up with an individual. One way is to ask if they are on LinkedIn. If the person is a member go home and immediately send them a request to connect. This is a simple way to keep their information in one place.
If a person is not on LinkedIn consider sending them an email telling them that you enjoyed meeting them. You may want to ask them to meet for coffee or lunch, depending on the person.
Networking is a great way to build relationships and being prepared is the best way to calm your nerves before a networking event.
How do you prepare for a networking event?