Guest post from Liz King of Liz King Events
One of the most important skills you can develop as a student (or adult) is networking. But what does that really mean?
Is it a bunch of people standing in a room talking in 3 minute segments to the people standing next to them?
I’ve been to far too many networking events like that, and admittedly, have even planned some of those events myself.
However, the more I think about the concept of networking, the more I realize that good relationships don’t have to happen by chance.
Here are a few suggestions for you to think about as you attend networking and other social events.
Do your Research
Whenever possible, take a look at the list of those people attending the event in advance.
If the organizers don’t provide one, it’s always okay to ask for it. Once you see this, scan the list and target 3-5 people that you would like to meet at the event.
You may want to meet them because they can help grow your business, because they have experience in an area that you do not, or simply because they have a shared hobby.
Prior to attending the event, do your research on them and make sure you have a few conversations starters on hand.
For those of you who are shy at networking events, targeting specific people and doing your research will help ease the pressure at the event.
You have a specific purpose and you’ll be able to hold your own.
Every professional is looking for the value when they attend an event. They want to know who you are and what you can offer them.
Keep this in mind as you approach others. Consider what their needs might be and connect the dots for them.
Starting a conversation by talking about what you can do to alleviate their problem is one sure-fire way to a good relationship.
While people are always looking to see what value you bring to them, they are often very willing to give in return.
Remember this because it can be used to your advantage. Once you have formed a relationship with someone, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, whether it’s information about the industry or a favor.
I don’t suggest asking for things like a job, since that may put them in an awkward position.
However, it is okay to ask them for an introduction to a hiring manager or a colleague in an event company that interests you.
Being prepared for networking and social events is one way to ensure that you form successful relationships.
The habits that you form while researching your targeted associates will help you even when you are on the train or bus, or stuck with someone in an elevator.
Every moment in life is an opportunity to network and if you can see it as more than small talk, you are on your way to success.
Remember, there is always someone out there who knows more than you do. Your task is to find them, get them on your side, and soak up their knowledge.
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