Networking provides a great opportunity to widen your professional circle. It’s also a great place to learn about different careers and familiarize yourself with local professionals in your area. For some folks, engaging with people at networking events is just another day at the office. However, not everyone finds networking this easy. Have you ever felt stressed out about the idea of having to network? Have you ever turned down an opportunity to attend a networking event because you were afraid of being in a room filled with strangers? I understand that not everyone is a social butterfly, but there are things that you can do to help prepare yourself for your first networking event. If you are new to the networking game, here are three simple things that you can do to help make your first event run more smoothly:
Dress The Part
Have you ever heard the phrase “Dress for the job that you would like to have?” First impressions really do count! Ensure that you dress appropriately for your networking event as you never quite know whom you will meet. Typically, business casual attire works best for events like these. Dressing the part is one simple way to exude professionalism. Plus, it also shows that you take this experience seriously. Give it a try!
Have a networking buddy.
It can be quite daunting and downright scary to approach an unfamiliar person and strike up a conversation. Having a networking buddy can help alleviate this problem. Often times it is a lot easier to do something in a group setting when you know you have the support of another person. A networking buddy can provide that support for you! A networking buddy is simply just a friend that attends these events with you. They help to shoulder the load and take some of the pressure off of you. As such, you will work in partnership with your networking buddy to meet and greet people. This can be a great way to become more familiar with the process of networking until you feel comfortable going solo.
Bring a business (contact) card.
You might be wondering whether people still use business cards in our age of technology. The answer is a resounding yes! Business cards provide a fast means of sharing a person’s contact information. Trust me, you don’t want to be caught rummaging around in your pockets or purses for a pen and a scrap of paper when asked for your contact information. It certainly isn’t professional! Go to your networking event prepared! Business cards are easy to design and relatively inexpensive to buy. Once you have established a connection with your contact person, you can then follow-up via email (or LinkedIn) to maintain that newly formed relationship.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.