How to Not Waste Your Time at Networking Events

Relationships are very important to me—and I believe they should be important to you, too. In business—as in life—there’s just no substitute. This is true of management, of marketing, and of sales. It also happens to be true of the job search process—and as such, it’s something I tell students and young people all the time.

You’re not going to get hired by one of your 6,000 Facebook friends—or at least, it’s pretty unlikely. You also may find that you have little luck sending in a resume without also striking up a real, face-to-face relationship with the person you hope will hire you.

Meanwhile, attending conventions, seminars, and networking events—now that may help you land a job.

But of course, attending a networking event is only helpful if you go there with the right attitude, the right strategy, and the right behaviors. This is where your personal culture will come into play: Do you attend networking events acting like a winner—or are you content to be just another face in the crowd?

As you seek to avoid wasting time at networking events, let me offer a few words of advice:

  • When you arrive at the event, make an effort to offer a genuine and friendly thank you to the host. More often than not, this ends with the host introducing you to some people with whom you might have some common ground.
  • Listen to people. People who attend networking events like to talk about themselves—and really, who doesn’t? Before you talk, take the time to listen. This will cause people to like you more, and in turn, they’ll be more likely to listen to you when your time comes.
  • Make sure your business cards are easy to reach. The window for distributing one may be exceedingly small. Make sure you’re not left fumbling in your pocket.
  • Introduce people. Have you made two connections at the event? Now introduce them to one another. This is a great way to cement these connections.
  • Position yourself in a high-traffic part of the room. What’s the point in going to a networking event just to stand in the corner, in solitude?
  • Did you make some connections that you think will prove valuable to you? Then follow up with those people—promptly. Follow up within a couple of days, at the very most. Remind them of who you are and express how nice it was to meet them. Without the follow-up, all the connections you forge at the networking event are essentially meaningless.

That’s my advice—but my biggest tip of all: Get out there, especially if you’re a young person who’s about to graduate from college. Face-to-face networking beats online networking every time, so don’t neglect it!