Networking can be bit of an intimidating experience for a first-timer, especially when networking with potential employers. The aim of the game is to develop new contacts and have interesting conversations – all whilst seeming calm, cool and collected.
If that sounds tricky, don’t worry – we promise it’s not. Here at Milkround, the UK’s leading graduate recruitment website, we love to share our sage advice to help you on your way to securing an outstanding career.
Here are our top five tips on how to win at networking:
Strike out on your own
Your wingman/woman may help you mingle on a night out, but at a professional networking event, it’s best to go it alone. It’s much easier to slip into an on-going conversation if you’re by yourself, and much less tempting to simply have a natter with your friend if they’re not around. Being on your own will give you the little push you need to go and introduce yourself to some new contacts.
Ace the handshake
Assert your dominance by breaking your new contact’s hand with a power-handshake...just kidding. Remember to greet new contacts with a smile, a firm (but not too firm!) handshake and remember to actually say your name. It sounds silly, but it’s easy to forget to say who you are, and then as the conversation moves on, it can be harder and harder to re-introduce yourself later down the line.
Get ready to pitch
Start off conversations by asking your new contact who they are and what they do. If you’re asked the same question, there’s no need to launch into a long monologue detailing your life story. Have a couple of sound-bites on hand that describe who you are and what you do in a concise and engaging way. Remember, the aim here is to get them to remember you, so try to tell them something that will pique their interest. Now’s a great time to highlight if you are interested in their company, or to ask some astute questions – preferably don’t ask any questions that you can easily find the answer to on their company website. Research the employers attending online beforehand if you can.
Don’t outstay your welcome
In any networking situation, know when it’s time to move on. Don’t hog one person all evening. Instead, gracefully mention that it was nice to meet them, that you will be in touch, shake their hand one last time for good measure and then casually drift away to your next new contact. Before you go, mention their name to show that you have really paid attention to who they are. For example, say ‘It was nice to meet you, Dave,’ …if their name is Dave, obviously.
Actually follow up
If someone gives you their business card, or mentions that you can connect with them on LinkedIn, make sure you do so and drop them a line to mention that it was great to meet them. It’s pretty much guaranteed that if you go the extra mile, actually connect with them and thank them for their time, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
So, now that you’re all prepped, go forth and network like you’ve never networked before. You can also check out Milkround for more great careers advice.