Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Do you prepare before attending a networking event?

I recently saw a question on a discussion board where people were asked to share how they prepare for a professional networking event. It was interesting to read just how many different strategies and preparations are used by those who commented. Some say they review guest lists and zero in on 3-5 people (prospects) and commit to meeting them before the event’s end. One job seeker reflects on what competencies most people may be seeking in an employee, in order to be well prepared to mention his value as it relates to those competencies. Others prepare specific probing questions in the event they find themselves in a stalled conversation. And, of course, we’ve all heard of the preparation of one’s elevator speech, allowing an individual to state “what he/she does” in brief, benefit-centered language.

Although I’m a seasoned networker, after reading these I realized the things I tend to do before a networking event, in comparison, may be much less strategic, but they work for me. So I thought I’d share them in the event they might work for you.

The first thing I do is wear something I feel good in. If I like how I look, I tend to carry myself more confidently. Then I mentally approach the event as a social event—get into a state of mind where I’m looking forward to meeting, connecting with, and learning about others. If the day of the event arrives, and I can’t get into that head space, I don’t attend. But when I decide I’m going to genuinely enjoy seeing colleagues and/or meeting new people, I generally do. And I believe if I’m enjoying myself, chances increase that others will enjoy meeting, and remember, me. Frankly, the people I remember most often from a networking event make some impression on me that has little to do with their profession.

Professional networking events simply offer a forum where you can meet others who you might later have collaborative business relationships with. And it’s through those relationships that the true mutually beneficial networking takes place.


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