You can find out about networking events through industry groups, the media and websites such as LinkedIn. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your networking opportunities.
Do a little preparation
Find out who is going to be at the event. Are these going to be the kinds of people you want as contacts? Make sure you go into the event with a goal, e.g. three five-minute conversations with people you haven’t met before.
Take plenty of business cards and a pen
If you're attending a formal networking event, take plenty of business cards and hand them out to the people you meet. Also take a pen so you can write down notes.
It’s a good idea to use the back of any business cards you receive to note the date, location and key points. This can act as a handy reminder. Just make sure you’re not taking notes while you’re in front of the person.
Move around the room
It can often be comforting to find someone you know and stay talking to that person. Does this sound like you? This is not terribly helpful if you want to get something out of the event.
Make sure you move around the room, introduce yourself to new people and make contacts. At first it will take you a little out of your comfort zone, but the more you do it the easier it becomes. Make it a goal to move location every fifteen minutes.
Keep your body language positive
If you don’t like networking this can come across in your body language. Remember to smile sincerely and look approachable. If you’re talking to someone make sure your attention is on them, not what is going on in the room around you or your phone screen.
Follow up the next day if you’ve met anyone who might be able to help you in your job search.
Networking can happen anywhere
Don't forget that any event where you meet new people can be considered a networking opportunity. Whether you’re at a school, a sports club or community event, always be open to meeting new people.
Networking is another way to access unadvertised jobs. If you get out there and start chatting, you might soon find yourself walking into a new role.