Networking is important.
It’s Friday night, and you’re thinking about going out with your friends. The usual bars, clubs, restaurants etc. come to mind and you’re probably inviting a similar crowd to the one you hung out with last weekend or the weekend before. Many of us enjoy meeting with friends and family. It’s easy to come up with things to do with them and the conversation tends to flow naturally. Why is it that when we think about attending a networking event we second guess ourselves? “What will I say? How do I meet people? Will I look bad?”
The reality is that in today’s digital world, networking has never been more important. The more events you attend the better you get with engaging with people. “Networking” tends to be a scary word for some people, so I’ve compiled a list of some of the key steps that I’ve found to help ease the process and make the idea of networking a little less daunting:
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with a clean picture and your most recent experiences. It’s okay if you don’t have a ton of stuff on there, just make sure that if you (or someone else) takes a look on your phone, it looks clean.
- Think about a few events that interest you and you can also add value. (i.e. at LaunchSource, we are passionate about bridging the skill gap so we are constantly challenging ourselves to attend events to learn what skills are missing and needed for early-career talent.)
- Get your 30 second “elevator pitch” ready. This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a quick story so that someone can get to know you in a short time. It should include who you are, what you’re working on and why you attended the particular event.
- Think about 3-4 questions you want to ask someone. The more questions you ask the more engagement you’ll have. The questions should be about what they do, how they got to where they are, what they’re currently working on. These questions will help conversation flow and evolve and could lead to interesting discoveries and/or more questions!
- Take a buddy along with you. I like to have a beer or grab dinner with a colleague before a networking event to spark ideas and get my mind working. It makes it more comfortable and in the beginning you may approach a few groups or different people together, but eventually you should split up to meet as many people as you can.
Always go to networking events with the intent of learning and create a goal with yourself to meet at least one new/interesting person. Always make sure to follow up via LinkedIn and personalize a short note on why it was great to meet that person. Networking can be fun and is an incredible opportunity to gain knowledge, build your brand, and grow your own personal network.
Check back soon for more information about upcoming LaunchSource networking events!