Braven’s Networking ChecklistPosted on
Whether you’re attending your first or your fifth networking event, you’re sure to connect with people who can teach you and help you grow. But these types of events can be extremely nerve-racking and it’s common to feel unprepared. Well, not today — we’ve put together a networking checklist to help you navigate your next event.
Do your homework
Research the event ahead of time so you know the location, parking situation, attire, and audience. Find out who’s attending (is the event posted on Facebook or LinkedIn?) and create a “meet list”. This can include companies you want to work at or people who work in your desired career field.
We’re not telling you to set a goal of adding 20 new connections on LinkedIn just for the heck of it. Aim to meet people who are in your desired industry and have sincere conversations with them. Focus on quality, not quantity — build authentic connections and have genuine conversations. If you focus solely on increasing your connections on LinkedIn just to grow your following, you’re not networking for the right reasons.
Dress to impress
First impressions matter, so make a good one. Plan your outfit a few days in advance and have it laid out the night before the event. It should be professional, comfortable, and should help you feel confident. If you struggle walking in heels, opt for flats. If you’re not sure whether a skirt or dress is too short, go for pants. If your shirt is missing a button…wear a different shirt. It’s best to stay on the safe side so you can make the best impression possible.
Prepare your elevator pitch
Create a one-minute elevator pitch to share who you are, what you do, why you’re passionate about it, and how it provides value. This is one of the first topics covered in our Braven course and will continue to come up at events you attend in the future, so it’s best to polish it now. Keep your pitch straightforward and memorable but don’t make it sound too rehearsed. You want to sound genuine — not like you’re reciting a monologue for acting class.
If you’re attending the networking event with friends, make a unanimous plan to branch out when you get there. Sticking solely with your group can create a barrier and prevent you from reaching your goal of growing your network. Use the buddy system in the beginning if you’re too nervous to venture off on your own, but try your best to muster up the confidence to start conversations with other attendees.
Formulate conversation starters
It can be nerve-racking to meet new people and put yourself out there at an event, but preparing a short list of conversation starters will surely help. Memorize a few questions and keep a notecard in your pocket for reference. You can never go wrong with the classic “What do you currently do?” or “How did you hear about this event?” Stick to open-ended questions and avoid anything that can be answered with yes or no.
Repeat names to remember them
It’s so easy to forget someone’s name right after they say it. Once the conversation starts, you’re so focused on what they’re saying that their name completely escapes you. In order to avoid this, try repeating their name in your head or say “It’s nice to meet you, [insert their name]” — saying it aloud will help you remember it. Use their name throughout the conversation and be sure to close with it when you depart. (You can disregard this if the event supplies name tags.)
Pay attention to nonverbal communication
Yours and theirs. Do you have good posture? Are you maintaining eye contact and smiling during your conversations? Is your body facing toward them or are you closed off and turned at an angle? Nonverbals say a lot more than the words flowing from your mouth so make sure your body is sending the messages you intend it to.
Bring business cards / Scan LinkedIn QR codes
Don’t fret if you forget (or don’t even have) personalized business cards. You can easily connect with someone you meet at an event by scanning their QR code on LinkedIn. By scanning their QR code on the spot, you can add them instantly and send a follow-up message after the event.
Let’s say you meet your “networking soulmate” and want to go beyond simply adding them on LinkedIn and liking their posts every few months. Follow up with them to plan an informational interview at a coffee shop! You’ll find that most people are happy to take the time to give you advice and answer questions about their career. This also gives you the opportunity to practice the interviewing skills that you gain in Braven!
Remember to be authentic and listen twice as much as you talk. Networking events are a great place to learn about specific careers and get a glimpse into possible career paths. Find commonalities you share and seek to create genuine connections. Review this checklist before your next networking event!