Networking. The word alone just sounds like a lot of … work … right? (Kind of like how that little boy in the picture above must feel walking into that big bus!) You might not even realize it, but you network every single day. When you’re working at the office, are out at dinner with new friends, or even chatting with the barista at Starbucks, you’re networking. Now let’s say you’re invited to a speed networking event, what do you do now? Sure you may think it’s another networking event, but you really need to have your information clear and concise, because at these events, every second you have with a professional is crucial.
We developed a list of the five things every great speed networker must know.
1 / Do Your Research.
On the invitation or website of the organization hosting the event, there should be a list of professionals attending as well as where they work. Google the presenters and the organization hosting the event. At a speed networking event, you will be spending time with each professional, and meeting the event planners, so make sure you’re knowledgeable with questions well prepared and ready in advance. And make sure you take the time to do extra research in the area or individual you’re most interested in, and try to target that person before or after the event to get some extra face time.
2 / Come With Questions.
After you have completed your research of the professionals and organization hosting the event, come with multiple questions to ask the professionals, and even the organizers of the event. You will want to have original, unique and intelligent questions. The topics can vary in topic and can include things about their company, recent projects, how they started or even about their dog (if that seems to be all they tweet about). Be memorable within your first few moments of meeting any professional or organizer, you never know where a connection may take you.
3 / Dress As Requested and Respect Expectations.
Usually an event will state what their expectations are of guests and you should generally follow these considering it’s a professional event. The professionals attending the event are taking time out of their busy schedule to help you, so don’t turn them away at first glance. And don’t forget to bring your best asset — your confidence!
4 / Be Professional With Contact Information.
If you’re looking to make connections, make sure your personal contact information, i.e. email address and phone number, are professional and are readily available. If you already have business cards, you’re a step ahead! However, if you don’t, be ready to quickly write or recite your contact information. Make sure your email address is professional and not something like “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Ideally, you would use some combination of your name or initials.
5 / Smile.
The most simple item to remember is to smile. It’s simple, easy and takes less effort than keeping a stern face. A genuine smile will bring people in and put them at ease. Be genuinely happy to be at the event and get as much as you can out of the time you’re there. By being genuine, positive and smiling, you could make a connection that will change your career. It’s that simple.