Posted by Matt Swistak at

When you attend a networking event, you want to ensure it benefits your career. You may meet an individual who leads you to your next opportunity. Follow these tips to make quality connections at a networking event.

  • Set a Realistic Goal

Before attending the event, decide as to what you want to achieve and how you can achieve it. For example, you may want to form connections with at least three people sitting next to you or at your table. Or, before the event, you might research the key attendees and their interests to ensure you know what to talk about with them.

  • Be Approachable

Keep your head up and arms and legs uncrossed. Smile. Make eye contact. Shake hands as you introduce yourself. Make small talk to find common interests. Stay relaxed so others want to talk with you.

  • Build Rapport

Maintain rapport by letting your discussion grow naturally. Find out what you have in common and talk about it. Perhaps one or both of you is attending the event for the first time or has been there before. Maybe you both enjoy travel and recently took a trip out of the country. Ensure you exchange business cards so you can continue your conversation after the event.

  • Actively Listen

Make a mental note of their name so you remember it later. Nod your head and use verbal confirmations during your conversation. Ask thoughtful questions and request more details. Give the individual your undivided attention. The individual is more likely to remember you as someone who made them feel important and want to talk with you further.

  • Focus on the Other Person’s Needs

Find out what their needs are and how you can fill them. If you know of someone who can help them out, offer to introduce them. The person you’re talking with will want to return the favor when they can.

  • Take Notes

After the event, write notes about each person on the back of their business card. You’ll better remember details about the individual and what you discussed. You can incorporate the information when following up later.

  • Follow Up

Follow up with each new connection within 72 hours. Send an email saying how much you enjoyed meeting the person. Mention one or two topics you discussed. If you said you’d send information or connect the person with someone, do so. Continue following up to cultivate a relationship. In time, you’ll be able to ask for what you need to advance your career. Ensure you help the other person as well.

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