How To: Make Any Event a Networking Event

“It’s all about people. It’s about networking and being nice to people and not burning any bridges.”- Mike Davidson

Networking. This one agonizing word sends a shiver down many people’s spines. There are those who can do it successfully and those who cannot. Why does this word send people running for the hills? Perhaps it’s because many in the business world today don’t understand what it truly means to “network.” 

The trick to networking is not to network! It all comes down to how you view meeting people that will help push your career forward. Don’t think about a corporate luncheon or a business social gathering as networking events. Think of them as ways for you to invest in your future in the financial world. It’s about being courteous and friendly, taking an interest in what they do, asking questions, and investing time in others. PrideStaff Financial wants you to learn some good techniques for networking (or investing in your future) at non-work-related events.

Learn from those around you.
First, if you don’t know how to network, you need to learn. It’s the old adage of walking before you can run. You won’t succeed at networking at non-work events if you don’t know how to network in the first place. Talk to those in your company that you feel would be good mentors for you. If they agree to be a mentor for you or help show you “the ropes,” then prepare questions for them on networking; the how and why it works for them. The next step is to attend work-related events with your mentor; where you can properly observe how your mentor networks. Who do they talk to? How much time do they invest in conversation? Take mental notes that you can write down at a later date. Ask follow-up questions from the event if need be. The primary goal is to learn from someone you trust and to observe.

Take the next step and invest your time.  
When you finally take the step of trying to network at a non-work-related event, you need to target who you have an interest in talking to early. Do your research; find out which attendees are management or higher and plan for conversations with them. The biggest trick in succeeding in this endeavor is to calm your nerves, and the best way to get over your nerves is to walk up and introduce yourself. You’ll find once you have done this, the rest tends to fall into place. Ask questions about them. If you have done your homework, you will easily be able to insert questions regarding their company or what made them take the leap from one position to the next. The financial and accounting worlds are all about growth and opportunity. Align your questions with how they have succeeded and how you can do the same. You will find the conversation flows easily and without duress.

Don’t forget your mission.  
The most crucial element in networking at general events is to remember why you’re doing it in the first place. The goal isn’t to land a job (if that is your goal then your networking needs change). The primary goal is to build relationships that are long-lasting and to build them early in your career. Focus on the goal of learning from these individuals, keep their business cards on hand, and touch base with them often. Remember: Networking is all about relationships – build bridges, don’t burn them. 

PrideStaff Financial wants you to be successful in business and in life. For more information about how to network, contact us today.