How to Slay Your Next Networking Event or Professional Happy Hour
Networking can be awkward experience for many people, including myself. I often have to psych myself up to make sure I get the most out of each event I attend.
According to an article by Business Insider, some experts say that 70% of people ended up in their current position thanks to networking. Others say it's more like 80% or even 85%. This means everyone looking to get a new job or build their client list NEEDS TO NETWORK.
With that said, I decided to put together a list of the 5 tricks I use to make the most out of a networking event.
1.Wear something cute and comfortable! 👗
If your are already uncomfortable with your outfit, it will show through and put forth the message that you are not a confident person. My go to is a pencil skirt with a casual tee or a cute button up. This way I feel relaxed enough to move around the room aka 'work the room' & comfortable enough to have great conversations with new people.
2.Be Prepared!! 👩🏾💻
Make sure you have physical or virtual business cards to hand out. There's nothing worse than making that great connection only to lose it because you don't have contact info to share immediately. P.S. most people are not comfortable sharing their personal with strangers so when you connect with professionals, make it super easy for them to connect with you.
3.Jump in! 🏊🏾♂️
When I arrive at a networking event, I make my way to the bar and usually spark up a conversation while waiting for the bartender. How you may ask?
*Pro Tip: Look at the person next to you and make a simple and easy to understand situational joke. If they smile or giggle, you've got your first connection. Ask them for their name and what they do, but only if you are going to be genuinely interested and hold a conversation. If you don't understand how their business works, ASK! Everyone is there for the same reason and should be open to conversation. If someone makes you feel awkward or like they would rather be watching paint dry than talking to you, be respectful and BOUNCE!
4.Don't force the conversation!! 🤐
If you do encounter a Negative Nancy or a Boring Bob, use the old "Do you know where the bathroom is?" trick and get out of there. There is nothing worse and wasting your valuable time with someone who wants to waste it and make you feel uncomfortable.
These events are supposed to be a fun way to meet new people. The keyword there is FUN so have some. People will want to connect with you more if you are having fun and laughing.
Bonus tip: if you're really nervous and worried about networking, then bring your outgoing and professional friend. They can help you join into conversations, but be careful as they can overshadow you if you let them.