Understand Your Career Goals
Networking events are a great way to meet people from different walks of life and expand your social and professional circle for the future. Best part of a networking session is that you never know who you might meet - an industry contact, colleague or potential client.
Here are 5 things that you should do to have a fruitful networking event.
Craft Out a Game Plan
As with anything in life, there must be an objective. What is the reason that you are attending this networking event? Is it to build your contacts or to suss out the current climate of your future industry? It does not have to be a long list - one or two objectives should be set for each networking event you attend.
One way to draft an objective would be to find out who the speakers are or get a hold of the agenda of the event. Sieve through the names of the attendees and pick a few whom you want to build a connection with and work out a plan from there to engage them. This should keep you focused throughout the event, and somewhat ensure that you do not leave empty-handed.
Personal Hygiene and Dress Code
Similar to going for a scholarship interview, first impression counts. It might have been a long day at campus or the weather might have been exceptionally warm, but no one would like to approach a glum-faced person or endure the smell of body odour. When in doubt on how to dress, always go for a smart casual outfit.
Memorise Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch consists of a few key things that include your name, what and where you are currently studying at, and your background. In short, it is a summary of yourself that can be recited in less than a minute - yes, just 60 seconds.
It might seem like an easy thing to do, but rest assured a good elevator pitch takes time and effort to craft. Bear in mind that it also needs to intrigue your audience, prompt them to want to know more about you and start an engaging conversation.
Prepare the Essentials
Two things are vital: business cards and a pen.
It is not unusual nowadays to hear of undergraduates having business cards of their own. It shows they take themselves and their future seriously, as they bothered to spend the effort and money to have these cards made.
In the digital age, it is more prudent and efficient to create e-business cards which could be easily 'exported' to a contact you meet. Since networking events are in a professional and formal context, it would enable you to be taken seriously by others, even as an undergraduate.
Why the pen? After each and every introduction or discussion, note down the new contact's strengths or skill you wish to tap on later. This ensures that even when there is a crowd, you do not get confused or forget who you met the next day.
Steer Clear of The Bar
Being drunk and fumbling around might actually be one of the worst things to happen at a networking event. Rule of thumb: two drinks is the maximum you should consume throughout the event - regardless of how well you hold your liquor.