7 Questions to Ask Other Attendees at Your Next Networking Event
The idea of attending a networking event makes many people uncomfortable. Attending a mixer or zoom online event, however, can be a great way to make connections and exchange information with other professionals. Start by building your skills. Remember that knowledge and expertise is the foundation to open conversations, and to connect with others. Sharing your story is the pathway to where connections happen, for both job seekers, and businesses looking for leads. Research shows that mastering your craft and sharing your work, helps you build these connections.
Sample ‘break the ice’ questions:
1. Have you attended events like this before?, 2. What are you hoping to get out of this event?, 3. What type of work do you do?
Preparing for a networking event
When preparing for a networking event, it’s important to remember that you are there to give first, and to make connections and exchange information. Networks provide diverse skill sets, industry information, and power. The core of why giving works is that you can’t usually predict who will be helpful to you in the future. Aim for a broad and diverse network.
Don’t forget to leverage your weak ties, and colleagues you may know solely on a casual basis. These can be strong resources and connections. Develop rapport, and you will not only start to build a relationship, but you will also show that you are interested in learning more about the person, and their work. Asking follow-up questions is key – don’t be afraid to dive deeper and ask more questions.
Be strategic in groups and events that you plan to attend
1. Make a target list of the people and groups that you want to attend.
Before the event, make a list of the people you want to meet. This can include potential clients, employers, or simply people who are doing interesting work that you want to learn more about. Having a list will help you focus your attention and make the most of your time at the event.
2. Be the one who initiates.
Approach people who don’t know you, and engage, especially those who are by themselves. First impressions matter, always dress to make a good one. Whether it’s a business casual or more formal event, take the time to put together an outfit that makes you feel confident.
3. Patience is a virtue.
Don’t expect to recap the rewards of a relationship immediately. Good things come to those who wait, and also to those who give.
4. The fortune is in the follow up.
Promptly follow up and reach out to the people you meet. Keep track of your new connections, and stay in touch. Recap your discussion, and consider sending something appropriate and relevant to your/or their work to follow through.
5. Avoid the perils of overzealous self-promotion.
Effective self-promotion can increase your visibility and help build your reputation. Be your ‘authentic you’; stay personable, and relatable without coming off as being full of yourself. Remember we walk into and out of different networks throughout our day. From meetings, lunches, going to the gym, after work events. Stay genuine through all of these interactions, and leverage each opportunity to network.
As always, stay focused on what you can give. Be sure to showcase your knowledge, skills, experience and expertise. This can include providing introductions to others, helping to brainstorm through an idea or project, or sharing resources you have used previously. Consider enrolling in a class relevant to your area of expertise. This can offer interaction with others in your field of interest and potential employers, and also enhance your portfolio and expand your skill set.
Connections create opportunities. Flex your network. Successful networking happens in many different formats. The truth of it is – it happens when you are working day in and day out. Strong execution of your work will cement an impression in a colleague/or client’s mind for the long term, which will also in turn source referrals and potential clients. Happy networking.