Time and again, successful job seekers cite “networking” as their best source for:
1. Learning about exciting opportunities
2. Getting introduced to key members of the hiring team at the companies they want to work for
While it’s the rare person who absolutely “loves” networking, your extra efforts can be the catalyst that help you land incredible roles. And here’s the thing to remember… it usually takes time to cultivate relationships that bear fruit. That said, if you’re not already networking, start now! If you are happy in your job and don’t have an interest in making a switch, continue your networking! You’ll accelerate your rate to hire if you’ve been actively networking throughout your career.
Utilize these tips to quickly cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with your fellow attendees.You’re likely expecting to experience many friendly smiles, welcoming handshakes, business card trading and new LinkedIn connections. That’s all great! But is there more you can be doing to cultivate lasting relationships of mutual benefit?Included here are our top tips to help you develop a simple plan of action to make the most of your time at the conference.
Before You Arrive
Think about why you’ve chosen to attend this event. What do you hope to gain? What would you like to learn? Who would you like to meet? What will you give?
What do you hope to gain?
- Would you like to reconnect with old friends, meet new and amazing people, talk with a speaker, learn about a specific topic, celebrate your success and those of others at the Quanties Awards? Anything else?
Thinking through your reasons for attending will help you enter the event with the right mindset and a game plan to make the most of your time.
What would you like to learn?
- Review the agenda and plan your time to ensure you are able to attend all of the events that will provide you with the greatest benefit.
Not sure which sessions to attend? Look up the speakers in advance and consider connecting with them on LinkedIn before the event. Most people do this afterwards, if ever, but making this connection before the event gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself and let them know that you’re looking forward to their session. Most speakers will appreciate your interest and some may follow up to try to get to know you and what you hope to learn, helping them tailor their talk to their audience’s needs, which happens to be your needs. That helps you get the exact information you’re hoping to learn and establishes a connection where you can follow up with questions after the event.
Who would you like to meet?
- Do you have old friends that you’d like to re-connect with, DAA leaders that you’d like to meet, speakers that you’d like to talk with, or make new friends?
Anything you can do to connect with these people in advance of the event will help you maximize your time. You can connect in advance to potentially meet at the airport and share a ride to the event location. You can set a plan to meet for coffee or outside one of the sessions or to meet up at one of the scheduled meal-times. Even if it doesn’t work out to set a plan to meet, you can be looking out for each other to connect at the event.
What will you give?
- When most people attend a conference, they’re focused on what they’re going to get from their attendance. I’d like to encourage you to also think about what you will give.
Just as the people you’re seeking out have information that can be valuable to you, you also have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. What do you believe the attendees would appreciate knowing about that you can share? Consider things like a pearl of wisdom from something you just learned in your work or a resource that you’ve developed or have seen which could be of value to others. You might also be ready with an interesting article, book, case study or white paper that you believe people may appreciate knowing about. It doesn’t have to be analytics-specific. Maybe you’ve learned of a great life hack or time-management tool or a meditation app. Being ready with something to share gives you something to talk about and a good reason to follow up.
At The Event
It’s helpful to start each day with a plan. Think about those things you’ve prepared for like what you hope to gain, what you’d like to learn, who you would like to meet and what you have to give.
- The most simple thing you can do is greet people with a warm smile. It’s free, takes but a moment and has the power to make someone’s day.
While I’m sure you know the power of a smile, you might try this experiment for fun… Look out for someone at the event who looks pretty serious and share a warm smile. Then observe their reaction, ready to engage. Do they smile back? Great! Most people do and that can be a wonderful opportunity to greet them with a handshake and introduce yourself. What if you share a warm smile and they don’t smile back? They may be in deep thought or maybe something is wrong. While it’s sometimes tough to approach someone who doesn’t look receptive, you might be their savior in that moment to help them work through a difficult situation. You might approach them, quickly introduce yourself and ask them if everything is ok. If you can be helpful by listening and maybe even offering a solution, you might just make their day and leave a positive and memorable lasting impression.
- Say hello, introduce yourself and shake their hand.
As you share your greeting you’ll want to be sure you heard their name correctly. If you don’t remember it, ask. The people who are best at remembering names will use the name of the person they’ve just met at least 3 times in their conversation to make it stick. Of course, capturing a business card helps too.
- By far the greatest gift you can give is to listen.
Make a conscious effort to engage in active listening. This means listening to understand, maintaining eye contact throughout, giving them your full attention and asking thoughtful questions. One of the worst things you can do is to look beyond the person you’re talking to as you seek out others in the room that you would like to meet. Even if your glances beyond your conversational counterpart are not to look for others, they may be misconstrued and ruin the possibility of a long term connection. Just be mindful of your body language and eye contact so that you project an interest in building rapport versus creating an unintended rift.
- Listen for opportunities to share your valuable insights that you’ve prepared for.
Every conversation and situation you encounter will be unique. That’s why it’s helpful to listen for the right opportunity to share the valuable content you’ve prepared. You might simply talk about the helpful insights or resource that you have available and then offer to follow up afterwards to share what you discussed.
Set A Plan To Follow Up
- Throughout the event, you’ll want to record the names of the people you’ve met, with a note of what you discussed and how you will follow up.
Connecting on LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to follow up with people you’ve met. It’s helpful to include a note referencing what you discussed to remind them of who you are in case they didn’t take notes and can’t remember. By taking responsibility for engagement, you’ll be memorable for being so organized, thoughtful and proactive in establishing a new business relationship.
After The EventYou will have met a lot of incredible people at the event. Cultivate those relationships with smart and thoughtful follow through.
- Review the plan you prepared to follow up from the event and execute it.
Ideally, you will follow up with each of your new connections within one week of the event, being sure to remind them of where you met, what you discussed and sharing anything you agreed to send to them.
Cultivating A Lasting Relationship
- The follow through you just completed will open the door to a long-term connection.
The time you take to quickly cultivate meaningful relationships at the event can pay off for you in dividends down the road. You will have already established a connection and you will have given them something of value. When you may need something in the future, whether it be advice, an introduction or something else, it’s a far more comfortable ask versus what feels like a cold-call. To make your relationship even stronger, you might follow up with the people you met from time to time. A perfect time to re-connect is to contact them to set a plan to meet before the next DAA event.
Download our Making The Most Of Networking Events Worksheet as your “game-day guide” to making the most of your time at the event.
Is Small Talk a daunting proposition?
Check out Debra Fine’s book, The Fine Art Of Small Talk for some wonderful tips for your real-world experiences + effective conversation starters and graceful ways to exit a conversation. Such a classic book with timeless advice.
Get Strategic About Getting Your Foot In The Door For An Interview
If there is a company and opportunity that you really want, imagine being in the hiring managers shoes and having them hear your name from 8 different sources that they respect and trust. This is the “secret formula” that one recruiter uses to land the jobs she wants when she’s on the hunt. She says, “You can’t help it. If eight people recommend someone for a position, and they are people highly respected by the hiring manager, that hiring manager can’t imagine hiring anyone else.” Keeping this philosophy in mind, how many people do you know at the organization you want to work for or who are friends, former colleagues or clients of the hiring manager who can put in a good word for you? How do you know who they know? You can look up common connections on LinkedIn and Facebook and other forms of social media. Would you like a form to rate the quality of your connections? Take a peek at page 62 in The Top Candidate Playbook.