Finally, after many months of saying you’re going to increase your network, you’ve decided its time to attend a networking event. Getting up a going is always the half the battle. The hardest part is talking to people and making new connections.
Starting a conversation at a networking event
You should have done research on the event and who you want to connect with and why. You could just see them as an inspiration and would like to meet for personal reasons. Some job seekers look to make connections because they’re interested in the industry or company. Other maybe because it may be useful in the future for a professional collaboration or even a career change.
Whatever your reason, doing research will help you to introduce yourself by making a personal connection with them. For example, complimenting them on a previous accomplishment, the way they conduct themselves, or how they resonated with you.
Do this within reason, you don’t want to come across stalker-like.
Just that you know who they are and relate in some way to them. Use your judgement to gauge how the conversations is going. If the person seems uninterested or in a rush, you may not want to push your luck. But if they seem interested in speaking, you’ll want to keep the conversation going.
Sometimes you may not be able to connect with the people you want. In this case, go out of your comfort zone, even more, talk to other people. You never know who you’ll meet at a networking event, start with small talk and go from there.
Icebreakers to Further Your Networking Conversation
If you want to learn about your new connections industry or the company, they work for your questions will be based around this. Keep it simple, remember you’re there to make connections not ask for a job.
Indeed has some good questions that you could use:
- What talent or potential do you have that is not fully realized at your current job?
- What single activity at work, if you could do it every day, would most increase your appreciation of and success at your current job?
- What’s something you believed earlier in your career but think about differently now?
- Is there a certain person who inspired your work? If so, why?
- What’s your proudest accomplishment?
- What’s the most valuable piece of career advice you’ve been given?
These questions are great to receive some career advice from their answers. If you are going to ask these questions, make sure you have an idea of what you would respond to them. As it is more than likely they would ask you the same question. Hopefully, your new connection will be just as interested in learning about you, networking should be two-way.
Follow up with your new connection
You don’t want to have wasted your time connecting if you’re not going to continue with the connection made. Make sure to give a business card, email or even connect on LinkedIn before leaving the event.
Send an email/ message to your new connection within 48 hours. Explain it was nice to connect and learn about them and you would like to stay connected. You can nurture the connection by interacting with relevant post, send relevant articles, and even meet up for a coffee from time to time and explore any collaboration opportunities.
The more you network the better you’ll become, and your conversations and questions will come naturally. You’ll also develop your own questions and way of connecting. But remember to always do your research and remain confident.
Check out our latest blog on Leaving your job without burning bridges
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