Most young professionals have a good idea of what networking is and why it’s important. I would guess that many of us in our twenties invest a decent amount of time working it into our lives. After all, new connections have the possibility of turning into valuable relationships, or even friendships, over time.
In my experience helping plan conferences and working launch parties and promotional events, I’ve had a lot of time to network and have seen wonderful connections develop. For example, I introduced my mentor to a designer I work with and to this day they work with each other during an annual gala.
From these experiences, I’ve learned that you have to be prepared for anything (and everything). A mishap is bound to happen here or there. What’s more important is how to handle them. Here my list of personal tips to handle things that might go wrong in a networking scenario, with my events and public relations perspective.
You forget your business cards. I’ve had several occasions when I went to grab my cards only to realize I left them in my other purse! Keep a few emergency cards stashed in your wallet and in your car, that way you’ll always have something.
You run out of business cards. You probably carry about 15-20 cards on a normal day. If you’re at a networking event and run out, don’t waste important face time explaining why you ran out. Simply suggest connecting on LinkedIn or another online profile and sharing contact information that way.
You get an invite to an event 5 minutes before you head out in the morning. If you’re anything like me, you have friends in many different industries. That means that during a normal workday, you could be dressed business casual and get a last minute invite to attend an event that calls for “haute cocktail attire” (this really happened). Keep one outfit (pressed and fully accessorized) set aside and only wear it during emergencies like this. The next time you get an invite like this, you’ll be ready to go.
You’re going to an event alone. I love to have a friend with me at a happy hour or alumni meet up but I’m an introvert and don’t mind going alone either. Someone recently told me if they’re alone, they come early to scope out the location. This helps to avoid the, “I don’t know where I am and I’m alone” look and helps them relax and anticipate what new connections they can make (maybe from the event staff or panel speakers who will be present ahead of time).
You RSVP to an event and then loose enthusiasm the day of. If for some reason or other you’re not in the mood to socialize but you’ve already committed to going, don’t feel pressure to talk to everyone in the room. Listen in on the sessions or participate in the activities and when it’s time to network, make a connection with just one person. That way you aren’t forcing anything unnatural and you’ve still given yourself a goal to accomplish.
Have other ideas to add to the list? Tweet them to me: @Janine_Clay.
Written by: Janine Clay