5 Tips for Preparing for a Professional Networking Event

Networking plays an important role in any professional’s career, which means attending events is vital to making new contacts, to developing career leads, and to staying abreast with what is going on in the local community.

Unfortunately, with the advent of social networking sites – Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Facebook – some have forgotten the importance of getting out and networking face-to-face. Networking events provide an ideal platform for professionals to meet contacts they might not run into online. For the best results at your next networking event, start preparing by doing the following:

Identify your goals
Think about what you hope to accomplish at the networking event. Are you hoping to find new job leads? Are you working on a project
– perhaps you’re an artist and need a writer to pen your book – and you’re looking for a partner? Knowing your goals for the professional networking event will make it easier to actually accomplish them.

Adhere to the dress code
Some networking events include a dress code for guests. Find out what that dress code is, and follow it. In addition, make sure you are well-groomed, including having clean fingernails, neat hair, and pressed clothes. Even if you aren’t required to wear a business suit, be sure to pay attention to your appearance and to dress appropriately.

Practice your introduction
Going to a networking event should be about more than just handing out business cards. To really get the most out of any networking opportunity, you must be ready to talk to other people and to start building relationships with potential contacts. Practice an introduction – like an elevator pitch – that shows others what sets you apart from the competition and what you can do for them to make them or their businesses more successful.

Stock up on business cards
Always take plenty of business cards to professional networking events then hand out two to the people you meet – one for the person and one for that person to pass on to someone else.

Because you’ll likely be getting many business cards during the professional networking event, jot down a few brief notes, on the back of the card, about the person who gave you the card. That way, you’ll have an easier time remembering who’s who.

Do your research
Before you head to any professional networking event, research, research, research. Learn about the speaker, if there’s going to be one. Get up to speed with industry news and with current events in the news, to make it easier for you to jump into or to start conversations. Research the background, if possible, of some of the participants you know are going to be in attendance.

Professional networking events can prove extremely rewarding, if you’re prepared. Take the extra time necessary to prepare to ensure a smooth and successful experience.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Paul Fenwick

Beth Williams writes for Teacher Certification Degrees, a career site that provides information on earning an elementary education degree, interviews with current teachers, and education careers from science teacher to principal.