Your network is your net-worth. This is something we always discuss with our clients. Networking is an integral part of every successful career. The wider your network, the richer your social connections:
- The more access to ideas you have: engaging with others spurs creativity.
- The more time you have. When you have a large and diverse network, you can usually find an answer with a few phone calls.
- The more feedback you can receive. Sometimes you are too close to a problem or an issue and need a fresh perspective.
- The more job opportunities you have access to. People in your network can recommend you or advise you of opportunities.
- The happier you are. Research conducted over the last 50 years shows that happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of a person’s network (Bowling Alone, by Robert Putman).
- The healthier you are. For example, women with larger social networks had a consistent pattern of reduced risk for coronary artery disease (Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives”, by Nicholas Christakis).
Obviously, there are overwhelming benefits to having a vast and strategic network.
How do you build a vast and strategic network? A great starting place is by attending networking events. You can attend four networking events a week, but if you’re not networking strategically, this will certainly be a waste of time.
Here are three tips to help you prepare for your next networking event, in order to make the most of your time and help you strategically build your network:
1. Prepare a self-introduction
Attending a networking event and not preparing an introduction ahead of time is akin to speaking off the cuff, without any rehearsal. Some people are great at it, but they are few and far between! Preparing a self-introduction that’s relevant to the context of the event is critical. Why did you attend this event? What are you passionate about? Who are you hoping to speak to at this event? Think of three to five questions that you would you want someone to ask, and start with that as a guide. Your introduction should be short and to the point.
2. Who’s on the guest list?
Do your research and find out whom you can expect to meet there. Doing so will give you a leg up. First, it will help you to identify if there are specific people going you would like to meet, such as a thought leader in your field. You can keep an eye out for them at the event. Second, having background on the people you hope to meet is an excellent conversation starter. You can focus your efforts on subjects that are relevant to them and that you know they would love to discuss with you.
3. Double check the dress code
Showing up at a networking event wearing something inappropriate or out of place can mean the difference between a successful networking experience and an unsuccessful one. Imagine showing up at a black-tie event wearing casual slacks and a polo. Would you feel comfortable staying and meeting strangers? Likely not!
Networking events are great places to meet new people and strategically grow your network. To make the most of them and your precious time, ensure you take the time beforehand to prepare, prepare, prepare!
To learn more about how to increase your networking skills, visit our course on “How to Command and Work Any Room.”