5 tips for Attending Networking Events
College career fairs, networking events and industry conferences are right around the corner and for us awkward individuals we know that it takes a lot of effort to interact with others let alone be the one initiating conversations with complete strangers!
During my college years I dreaded attending these job fair events and conferences mainly because I would get so wrapped up in all of the little details that I would often psych my self out of going completely.
Even still I have some hesitation and nerves kick in right before an event but these 5 tips really helped me be more prepared and just a bit more relaxed at these events.
1. Bring your business cards if you have them
Regardless of the purpose of the conference you are attending, you will be meeting a whole bunch of people from either the industry that you currently work in or one that you could be a part of in the future.
Networking at these events will allow you to expand your professional reach as well as form connections that can assist you in job opportunities in the future or even new clients for the job you currently have. Many managers and employers send you there with the hope that not only will your personality and knowledge of your job help you gain clients but it will also function as an advertising platform for their company.
2. Do your research & practice explaining to people what you do
But be careful. When going to industry specific events you will be surrounded by companies that are either directly your company’s competitor or companies that intend on being your competitor in the future. So make sure you talk to your employer about what you can and cannot speak about. You do not want to talk about companies that you currently work for that you might have nondisclosure agreements with or some other legally binding contract … so know the boundaries.
3. Have fun and let lose a little bit
One of the things most people forget about once they get out in the corporate world is who they are and what they bring to the table. You might have a great sense of humor, or have a hobby that is interesting. Do not be afraid to speak to people about it. That is how connections are formed. You might begin a new friendship just because you talk about how you write screen plays on your down time. So go for it.
4. Look up body languagecues prior to the conference
These cues are a great way to know when a person you are speaking with is uncomfortable with the direction that the conversation is going. They can also help you figure out when to approach a business proposal.
5. If you are going with your coworkers
Use this as a time to bond and get to know them a little bit better. Remember you are spending 40-80 hours a week with them. You see them more than you see any other people in the world. Your mental emotional and physical health is directly tied to the groups of people you are around the most. If the flu is floating around in the office, your chances of getting sick increase significantly. If the work place is negative, and you are afraid to approach management to discuss issues or feel that you are just not connecting with your coworkers the chances that your emotions and mental health will be impacted negatively also increase. So try to foster a positive and open atmosphere and at conferences is one of the best times to do this.
6. Last of all! When packing for the trip separate your suitcase by outfits.
You do not want to get there and realize you forgot one of your shoes, or that you left a tie behind. This creates a whole bunch of stress that you don’t need. Remember “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”
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