13 Aug

5 Ways to Survive (and Thrive) at a Networking Event

By Abby Brown, Creative Associate
It’s been a half hour, and you still haven’t talked to a single soul. You’re trying not to sweat through your blazer in the summer heat, and the promised  ‘light appetizers’ are nowhere to be found. The dimly lit and loud bar is filled with professionals with color-coded nametags, but you couldn’t differentiate some of the assigned categories to save your life. The people you do talk to are either in an unrelated field or a bit too tipsy for the occasion, and you think to yourself, “what am I doing here?”.

This potentially panic-inducing vision I just described is an accurate depiction of a networking event that my coworkers and I recently attended. While that event had its fair share of faults (seriously, where were my appetizers?), most networking events are a worthwhile endeavor. Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful for conquering the inevitable discomfort of networking events:

1) Have a Game Plan:  Have a team huddle before you go into the event. Know what to say if someone asks about your company, prepare a brief elevator pitch, and be sure to bring plenty of business cards. Being prepared will put you at ease, even in an awkward situation.

2) Be Confident: Be confident in yourself and your business. It will build your credibility and your authority in your respective field. Obviously, too much confidence can be off-putting, so try to be friendly, be sincere, and be yourself.

3) Ask Questions: If you’re uncomfortable talking about yourself, put the spotlight others. Ask them about what they do, their company, etc.  They’ll remember you for being engaging and personable.

4) Don’t Be BFFs with the Bartender: Please don’t be that person. Don’t be that­ person who staggers up to the young professional ladies and almost falls on them (yes, this happened to us). This is not a fraternity party; it’s a professional event and you’ll be jeopardizing your reputation, as well as your company’s.

5) Practice Makes Perfect: The more you go, the easier it will be. It might take a few painful attempts, but it’s a great way to meet new people and expand your professional opportunities.

For more in-depth tips on the inner workings of networking, check out this article by the Washington Post.