The holiday season is here. Regardless of what you observe or don’t observe, the season brings with it many opportunities for networking. Whether it’s the company-wide party or a small gathering at a friend’s house, knowing what to do at a networking event can prove to be very beneficial! I hope the tips below help you as you navigate through the eggnog, sugar cookies, and maybe even a little fruitcake this season.
- It’s not about the food (or drink.)
- You booze (too much), you lose.
- Don’t forget the handshake.
- It’s not about you.
- Business Cards: Don’t overload.
Now that I have your attention, read the full article below and learn how to network like a professional!
It’s not about the food (or drink.) You’re trying to land an interview, earn business, or make new connections, right? Try this: eat before you go to the event. It’s okay to nibble here and there, but how can you carry on a conversation with someone if you have 15 mini burgers piled on your plate? Another tip is to network first, and then eat. That way, you still get to enjoy the food. Win-win!
You booze (too much), you lose. Someone always ends up having too much fun at the networking event. You know, they’re dancing on the tables, talking to the coat rack, singing karaoke at the top of their lungs, etc. Don’t be that person. If you’re of legal drinking age, it’s okay to enjoy a drink or two within reason if you plan to imbibe, and then switch to soda, coffee or water. They’ll never know your Coca-Cola or Pepsi isn’t mixed with something else if you don’t tell them. The bonus: You’re still clear-headed and can carry on an intelligent conversation (handy for follow up and follow through) while the other person has a nasty hangover. You have the advantage! Like every major label says, “enjoy responsibly.”
Don’t forget the handshake. When you’re introducing yourself to someone at a networking event, shake their hand, look them in the eye and give a short (10 seconds or less) greeting. If you have a drink in your hand, try to carry it in your left hand so your right hand is warm and dry. There’s nothing more jarring than a cold, wet handshake!
It’s not about you. Wait…what? You read that correctly. Networking isn’t about you. When you’re networking, try to listen more than you talk. Ask people how you can help them. As a student, this seems odd, doesn’t it? Don’t worry – you still have a lot to offer! Offer a unique perspective on their line of business, share with them what you’re hearing on campus related to their company or product. Another tip: Use the networking experience to ask questions like “what do you like most about your job?” or “what tips would you suggest for me as a college student who is preparing for graduation and their first career?”
Business Cards: Don’t overload. Networking events aren’t typically conducive for handing out your résumé. Instead, bring plenty of business cards that you can use as a follow up tactic. When you’re finished speaking with the individual, offer them your business card if it’s appropriate, ask for theirs and when/how you should follow up. When you do follow up, you can attach your résumé (remember, it’s still not all about you – bring up something you had in common and offer your assistance or insight) for their convenience. Added bonus: Business cards are easy to create. You can make your own by downloading a template and printing on card stock at home, or you can order from online sites such as VistaPrint or moocards.com. Just remember to keep it professional.
I hope these tips are helpful to you as you head out for the holiday party or next networking function. Have a tip that wasn’t covered? I’d love you to add it to the list. Leave a comment below and let me know! As always, thanks for reading.
Want to learn more about networking? Check out this NETWORKING BONUS TIP: 8 Rules for Networking from The Wall Street Journal. Click here.