This week, Beth from Inspiring Interns talks about a topic that has become increasingly important for job seekers today – networking. She gives lots of useful tips on how to make networking easier, and how to be more confident at networking events.
A = Attendance
The first thing you need to do to be a networker? Show up at networking events. Just being in the room is half the battle won – people may even come talk to you!
B = Body Language
Always look someone in the eye when you’re talking to them. Don’t cross your arms – it looks standoffish. And smile!
C = Confidence
Fake it till you make it actually works – stand tall and act confident, and people will believe it. Remember the absolute worst thing that can happen is that someone will say they don’t want to talk to you. And that makes them rude.
D = Discussion
Good networking has to be a two-way conversation. Don’t just gabble at someone – ask questions. Show an interest in the other person and they’ll show an interest in you.
E = Elevator Pitch
To help battle nerves, prepare a two-minute intro stating who you are and what you want. Use it when you first walk up to people to ensure you don’t mind blank.
F = Friendliness
You’ll get a lot further with someone if you come across as friendly and approachable. Be nice, compliment them, and show that you’re interested in them as a person, not just a contact.
G = Give & Take
Think about what you can offer the person you’re connecting with, not just what you want from them. You’ll have much more success if there’s a networking benefit for both of you.
H = Humour
Don’t be afraid of cracking a joke – having a laugh with someone is a great way to build rapport.
I = Icebreakers
The hardest part of networking is starting a conversation. Come up with some reusable ice-breakers, such as offering someone a coffee or asking how they’re finding the event.
J = Join Conversations
Don’t be afraid to join in conversations. It’s a great way to network multiple people at once, and it reduces the likelihood of awkward silences.
K = Keep In Touch
If you had a great conversation with someone, don’t squander the opportunity! Get their contact details and send a follow-up message after the event, saying how great it was to meet them and suggesting that you reconnect in the future.
L = Listen
When someone is talking to you, make sure you listen carefully to what they’re saying. It shows you have respect for them and is much more likely to get a positive response than if you just start blabbering on about what you want from them.
M = Mimic
Mimicking someone’s body language is a science-backed way to bond with them. Just keep it subtle!
N = Natter
Not everything you talk about has to be high-brow or work-focused. We build rapport with people we have things in common with, so if you find out you love the same band or have been on holiday to the same place as your target, talk about it!
O = Objectives
Always have a clear idea of what you want to get out of a networking event. Set personal targets -like speaking to five key people- to keep you focused.
P = Professionalism
This should be obvious, but remember that if you’re at an event for work purposes you have to keep it professional. Don’t swear, don’t talk about personal or controversial things, and if you’re going to have a drink stay within your limits.
Q = Questions
Use them! They show that you’re interested in the person you’re talking to, and the topic they’re talking about.
R = Research
Before an event, take some time to read up on some relevant topics and to find out who is going to be at the event. Knowing who you want to approach before you arrive will stop you wasting your time.
S = Social Media
Networking isn’t just done in person. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account yet, get one. Add everyone that you meet and keep in touch – you never know when these ‘weak ties’ could be useful!
T = Timing
Don’t approach someone when they’re on the phone, about to head into the bathroom, or have put half a pastry in their mouth. No one will appreciate being interrupted when they’re busy.
U = Understanding
Everyone attending a networking event wants something. Understand what it is, and use it to facilitate engagement with them.
V = Volume
Especially when you’re first starting out, try to talk to as many people as possible. The more you practice networking, the better you’ll become at it. Plus, the more people you talk to the higher your chance of getting something useful out of the event!
W = Work The Room
Most people pick one spot in a room and stick with it. To maximise your chances of having multiple conversations with people, move around!
X = eXit
Knowing when to leave a conversation is important – don’t overstay your welcome, and duck out if the conversation starts lagging or the person you’re talking to looks bored.
Y = Yourself
Always remember the most important person in the room is you. Think about what you want out of the evening, and focus on getting it.
Z = Zeal
The worst thing you can do is stand around looking listless. Project a natural enthusiasm by going to events you care about and talking about topics you’re passionate about.
Beth Leslie writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency specialising in matching candidates to their dream internship. Check out their graduate jobs London listings for roles or, if you’re looking to hire an intern, have a look at their innovative Video CVs.
Want to become a more confident networker? Don’t forget to check on Mycareer for upcoming company networking events. If you want some additional advice before the event, don’t forget you can come and talk to us – either through booking an appointment or drop-in Mon-Fri 1-4pm.