Networking comes in different forms. One of the most popular is a networking event. It can be a conference wherein you can connect with the attendees and even the keynote speakers. It can also be a professional association event that is organized by an industry organization.
A professional networking event covers a specific market, allowing you to network with other people within the industry. You can also hone your networking skills during a community event, which can be a summer fair or a fundraising activity.
Importance of Networking
If you’re into sales or business development, networking should be one of your strengths. But even if your work does not require you to generate leads or get new clients, networking can play a huge role in your success as a professional. With networking, you’ll be able to gain access to information and resources that you may need in career advancement.
If you’re an employer and looking for service providers, you can ask your network for recommendations. You can also browse through your list of contacts to find candidates for career opportunities. As an employee who is looking for a new job, you can check your network to see if you have recruiters or former colleagues who know any open positions for you.
Below are some guidelines to keep in mind before, during, and after a networking event:
Before a Networking Event
Got invited to a conference, roundtable discussion or professional association event? Here are some tips that will help you widen your network:
#1 Set a specific goal
Being in a room full of professionals you don’t know can be intimidating, but there’s no way you will be able to meet new people if you will not leave your seat and talk to them. To motivate you in meeting people, set a specific goal such as meeting at least two speakers from the event, or collecting ten business cards. With a goal in mind, it will be easier to get up and take action.
#2 Choose your outfit carefully
Make a good first impression by wearing clothes that will make you look neat and professional. You should also feel comfortable with your outfit to make you feel confident in a new setting that can be uncomfortable.
#3 Bring more business cards than you need
One essential element of networking is to give people something they can use to contact you, and that usually comes in the form of business cards. Keep a stack in a card case. It looks more professional to pull a card out instead of searching through your bag.
During a Networking Event
Put your networking skills to the test. Here are some tips to consider:
#1 Meet new people
Networking events are great avenues for meeting new people or reconnecting with old colleagues and bosses. Don’t waste the opportunity by sitting and playing with your phone throughout the event. Greet people and start with some small talk. In most cases, you only need a few minutes to communicate with somebody and eventually exchange business cards. Once you’ve made a connection, set a reason to follow up after the event.
#2 Pay attention
Even though your goal is to meet at least 10 new people, networking needs your time and attention. Don’t make it a race just to achieve your goal. Pay attention to every new person you meet and have a meaningful conversation. Who knows? That person may be of help with your career later on. Of course, make sure to offer your help. After all, it takes two to build a new relationship.
#3 Remember the important details
The purpose of networking is to build connections, so make sure to remember relevant information about every conversation during the event. You can take notes on the business cards so it will be easier for you to remember what to talk about when you reconnect after the event.
After a Networking Event
Networking doesn’t end at events and conferences. After the event, make sure to send an email to everyone you’ve met and deliver what you’ve promised. If you say you’ll invite them on LinkedIn and touch base from there, do it as soon as you can.
Attending networking events can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Prepare yourself and be open to meeting new people. Building an extensive network will help your career at some point. In turn, you’ll also be able to help them in some way. Establish healthy relationships, and before you know it, your network will open many opportunities for you.
Thank you for reading CFI’s networking event guide. CFI is the official provider of the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® certification program, designed to transform anyone into a world-class financial analyst. To keep learning and developing your knowledge of financial analysis, we highly recommend the additional resources below: