Let’s face it. We’re all too familiar with the daunting experience of heading to a networking event.

What do I say? What do I wear? Who do I chat to? Have I got something in my teeth?

So many worries! With these eight top tips you’ll be ready to work the room in no time and be one step closer to making valuable connections.

1. Be visible.

As a first step, make sure your online profiles (such as your Hiive profile!) are up-to-date. Try adding rich content like videos, images and links to your work to make your profile stand out. The key is to really show off your talents and ambitions.

2. Be prepared.

Before setting off, take a look at the attendee list and pinpoint specific people you’d like to approach. Ask yourself: How could they help me grow my career? And what could I offer in return? What do I want to get out of the relationship? Have some key questions and answers up your sleeve by researching potential connections and preparing your elevator pitch (a quick overview of your key skills and experience).

3. Practice makes perfect.

Do a dry run with a couple of people who aren’t on your list. This will settle your nerves before you start approaching ‘the big fish’.

4. Keep it casual.

Start off with small talk, then move on to ask about current and future projects they might be working on (this is where it will show if you’ve done your homework). Remember, this isn’t the time to ask them for a job! Leave this for later on down the line.

5. Listen, actively.

Make sure you really listen to what the other person is saying – keep eye contact and smile, without getting distracted by the table of nibbles nearby. When you’re introducing yourself, make a mental note of their name (SO important). Keep the conversation flowing by asking open-ended questions such as “What projects are you currently working on/got coming up?”, “How did you get into your field?” or “What do you enjoy the most in your job?”. Before you move onto the next conversation, jot down key things you chatted about and would like to pursue.

6. Go easy on the drinks.

It’s ok to be nervous but don’t go overboard — it’s all about making a first good impression. Which you won’t make if your new connection has to carry you out the door…

7. You be you.

Don’t be afraid to let your personality and strengths shine. You’re awesome so make sure people know that. Wear something you feel comfortable in and for an extra touch, try adding something that makes you stand out like a bright top, tie or accessories (still keeping with the dress code, of course).

8. Follow up.

This is without a doubt one of the most important elements of networking effectively. Get in touch within your new contacts within three days of the event via email, phone or social platforms like Hiive. Remind them of where you met (“It was lovely to meet you at…”) and the key topics and things you discussed (“I really enjoyed chatting about…”). Next, you can start asking for a favour like a catch up over coffee, potential mentorship, job openings or offering your help. Easy peasy!

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