For those new to career networking as a way to advance themselves in their industry, proper preparation for these events may not be second nature. This week, in our blog we will cover some of the basics and walk you through the bare minimum you need to come in with to maximize your networking experience.
Walking into a professional networking event without business cards is like driving a car with flat tires– not only will you have little luck getting anywhere, you might actually even end up worse off than before you started. Even in the digital age, exchanging business cards is still the fastest, simplest way of connecting with other professionals and making new business contacts. No one is going to appreciate the delay involved in scribbling down your name and other info while other, potentially more prepared candidates walk by.
If you’ve been unemployed, changed careers, or just started your career, your funds may be limited and it’s understandable that you currently don’t have the means to print the business cards you really want. You do need something to pass around at mixers, though, and you still have options. Discount printing services like Vista Print offer several pre-fab business card designs with your text for free or very low prices, and while this isn’t the most original or prestigious option, it’s a perfectly respectable place to start in order to get your name out there. Some business cards may make a stronger impression that others, but in the end any business card that gets your contact information into the hands of someone who wants it has done its job.
Some folks are naturals at breaking the ice with strangers in any setting, and if this is you, feel free to skip to the next section! Some of us, however, aren’t always sure how to best approach new people. If that more closely describes most of your experiences, it helps to have a strategy. Before your networking event, come up with a list of relevant questions you can ask someone in order to start a conversation, and rehearse a short greeting that describes you and your work in a positive, professional way.
Before your networking event, think about what you want to accomplish there. Any objective is fine– perhaps you want to make contact with 10 people in a particular industry, or get your business card into the hands of a high-ranking individual at your dream company. Whatever your goal, start by setting it and then brainstorm ways to make it happen.
There you have it– these are the bare bones requirements for making a networking mixer worth your while. In next week’s post, we’ll move on to some of the less expected things every networking event attendee should carry, and the surprising effect they can have on your success!
Olivia is a 150-guest venue with multiple options for seating, catering, and socializing. If you’d like to inquire about hosting your own corporate networking event with us, use this contact form to get in touch with our staff!