Now that business events are picking up, there will be many opportunities to be social with coworkers and industry friends. Not only are holiday parties right around the corner, but the biggest event in the global mobility world happens in Las Vegas in a few weeks: WERC’s Global Workforce Symposium 2022.
Networking opportunities are a way to develop mutually beneficial, long-term business relationships while socializing away from the office. It’s also a way to exchange information, get advice from experienced peers, and further your career goals.
Here are a few suggestions for healthy and happy networking:
- Prepare your elevator pitch: Craft a summary of what you do and the value that it provides but stop there. No one wants to be overwhelmed with information. They want to get to know you.
- Bring business cards: Be sure to pack plenty of business cards so you don’t have to scribble your contact information on a cocktail napkin or slip of paper.
- Use the buddy system: Pair up with a business colleague to keep an eye on each other, especially if you’re just starting out in a new career or have recently changed jobs. This is also a great way to meet people that you don’t already know if your buddy has been in the industry longer.
- Have a loose plan: Create a few goals for your next networking opportunity. Perhaps you set an objective of talking to at least three people. Others create a brief checklist. This will help you feel a little more confident and relieve some social pressure by giving yourself a task.
- Quality over quantity: Don’t expect to meet everyone in the room. Depending on the duration of the event, if you have five good conversations, consider that a success.
- Small talk: Get the conversation going with low-pressure small talk. Consider asking, “Have you been to this event before?” It’s easy for the other person to answer, and it provides a common ground.
- You’re more than your title: When someone asks, “What do your do?”, most people will respond with their job title. You can go one step further and explain specifically what you do. Offer more details, so they don’t have to fill in the blanks.
- Meet the stragglers: It’s hard to march up to a group of people already in a conversation. Spot the stragglers and introduce yourself and ask what they do. You will both be happy you did.
- Be a good listener: Networking is about building relationships. Move the focus away from you to the person you’re speaking to and practice being a good listener. Your genuine interest will go a long way.
- Follow up: Networking requires some work to continue the relationship. Perhaps you follow up with a LinkedIn request or send a personalized message. Invest some time the next day or so to cement the relationship cultivated during the event. Focus on how you can serve them, and you will stand out.
It boils down to just being yourself. People connect with others who are genuine and sincere. When you come prepared to network, you won’t need the 3 glasses of cheap wine to get you through the event. If you are going to drink, eating something first which is always a good idea. Dress professionally, mingle with others outside of your company colleagues, and maintain decorum, and you will be seen in a professional and positive light.
Written by Cathy Heyne, GMS-T, President