Attending networking events can be intimidating, even if you are a seasoned pro.
Being in a room with hundreds of people can be scary, and you’re probably worried that you don’t look professional, or that you’ll become incredibly nervous and sit in a corner the whole time.
With so many worries on your mind, it can be difficult to juggle tasks. You have etiquette to worry about, files you might misplace, and names to remember. We’ve put together some handy networking hacks to help your big day of connections go a little more smoothly!
1. Take photos of business cards
Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of the piles of business cards you receive from different networking events. They end up in the bottom of your bag, in the back of your cell phone case, and in your pockets (then through the wash!). A good trick is to take photos of all the business cards you receive, and create an album on your mobile device.
2. Carry a pen and paper
Don’t ever be left without the tools to jot down notes, names, or other key information. Always carry some sort of writing utensil and paper or notebook, just in case. Even though we live in a world of tablets and cell phones, they aren’t always dependable. Having a pen can also be great if you want to make notes on the business cards you receive to help you remember each person.
3. Make a statement with your outfit
Dress in something professional, that will help you stand out for all the right reasons. Sometimes when you’re at a networking event, it can be difficult hard to keep track of the people you meet. This also goes for your contacts – and as important as it is for you to remember them, it’s equally important that they remember you! Wearing something identifiable can help. For instance, if you are wearing a bright coloured blouse, or a polka dot bow tie, it helps others remember you.
4. Wear comfy shoes
Your shoes are arguably the more important part of your wardrobe when it comes to professional business events. It’s hard to look good, and be comfortable, but the last thing you need is for your feet to be so sore that you’re stuck sitting down. Make sure your shoes are comfy and broken-in (save those new heels for another day!). Consider buying insoles for your shoes and pack Band-Aids just incase. If you’re really not feeling confident, pack a pair of more comfortable shoes in your bag.
5. Save yourself from an embarrassing moment
Nobody wants to be stuck with a stained shirt, messy hair, or fur or lint all over their black pants (preach, pet owners!). Pack the necessities that will save you from this situation like a portable stain remover, lint brush, hairbrush, and anything else that you feel may come in handy. If you have long hair, packing extra clips can come in useful. Makeup essentials like lipstick or powder can also be very useful for touch-ups through the day.
6. Stay clear from stinky breath
You decide to devour something with onion and garlic on your lunch break. Now, you’re stuck talking with a hand in front of your mouth… but there’s a silver lining. Not only are packs of mints or chewing gum great for masking stinky breath, it can also be a great icebreaker. Offer someone a piece of gum or mint when you take one out for yourself, and it may open up a new conversation!
Still not feeling confident? Check out the Facebook group or online event page to see who else will be attending. Try looking them up on LinkedIn and connecting with them prior to the event. Having a short conversation with people before the event can make you feel more confident when attending, as you’ll already have some people you know you can automatically talk too.
8. Make a target list
Often networking events have hundreds of attendees, which can be completely overwhelming. You’re never going to meet everyone that is attending, but having a list of the people you really would like to meet and chat with can be helpful. Again, take a look at who is attending, what they do, and why it is beneficial for you to connect with them. Having a hard time spotting them at the event? Find them on Twitter and let them know a place you can meet up!