My generation typically feels one of two ways about networking, we either love it or hate it. There is no in between. Some of us have personalities so outgoing that we can’t wait to chat up a room full of strangers and shuck out business cards, or we loathe it entirely and would rather have all of our eyelashes plucked out individually than talk to people we don’t know for an hour.
I am one of those individuals who does not enjoy networking. Weird for someone in marketing, right? Here’s the deal, I can be awkward in situations where I don’t know anyone and let’s be honest, that’s never fun. Networking is necessary when you work in marketing and as a young professional I have to put myself out there. Here are some networking tips to help make these events slightly less awkward and dare I say it, enjoyable.
Come up with conversation points ahead of time
Why should you have to plan ahead for an event which is supposed to be spontaneous and full of free-flowing conversation? Because sometimes you’re going to find yourself in a situation where no one wants to talk or conversation is hard to come by. This is where your pre-planned conversation points save the day. Think about the questions you ask your friends when they get a new job. What’s the most interesting part of your job? What’s your office like? What kind of projects do you typically work on? Keep it casual and organic.
Let people know why you’re there
Are you a full-time student, recent graduate or unemployed? Be sure to mention it. I’m not saying you should introduce yourself by saying, “Hi, I’m Susie Smith and I don’t have a job, but I would really like someone at this event to offer me one.” But you should be upfront with other professionals about why you’re networking. For example, when I attend a networking event I like to introduce myself as follows, “Hi, my name’s Anne and I am a digital marketing coordinator at Roundpeg and I’m really excited to connect with some new business professionals.” I have made it clear that I am not looking for a job, but I would like to talk to other industry professionals and learn a thing or two.
If you are a recent grad looking for a job, a great way to introduce yourself without sounding desperate is, “Hi my name is so-and-so and I am a recent graduate of blah blah university and I can’t wait to learn more about this industry from people who have experience working in this field.” You’re telling everyone you just graduated, you want to learn more information about their jobs, and once you start talking to people you can mention that you’re looking for an internship or employment.
You can never have enough business cards on you
Do not show up to a networking event with only five business cards. I don’t care if you only hand out one the entire time you’re there, you need to have a handful of business cards on you. I have attended small networking events where you pass your business card around to everyone and I have been to larger events where you only hand your card to the people you actually connect with. You never know how many cards you’ll end up passing out and you do not want to be the person who runs out and has to scribble their phone number down on a napkin. Don’t have any business cards? There are plenty of resources available for you to create your own.
Whether you get really razzed about networking events or you try to avoid them at all costs, they are necessary when it comes to growing and developing as a young business professional. If you need some practice or could use some personal advice come to our networking seminar at the ‘peg. Too lazy or shy to come to the little white house? Download our networking guide and read it in between watching Netflix and checking Twitter.