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Even for outgoing people, networking events can strike a certain sense of fear. They’re important events for meeting new connections who may help you get a job in the future. To maximize the benefits of these events, follow these tips to ace your next networking event.

 

Be yourself

While that may seem like obvious advice, networking is all about making connections. If you’re trying to connect with people by pretending to be someone you’re not, those connections won’t hold any ground. Be genuine. Authenticity will get you a lot farther than trying to be who you think others want you to be.

 

Take notes

If you had a great conversation with someone, be sure to ask for their business card after. Take notes on their card about specific points of the conversation that stood out to you. You can use those points to personalize your follow-up message to them.

 

Treat everyone as a friend

While the point of networking events is to make business connections, you’re more likely to succeed in doing that if you treat people like they’re your friends. Don’t just walk up to someone and interrupt their conversation to hand them your business card and then walk away. Instead, build a rapport with people and the talk of business will fall in.

 

Be engaged

At networking events, being an active listener is vital. If the people you’re speaking with feel as though you’re not paying any attention to them, they’re not going to help you out in the future. Instead, focus on maintaining eye contact and using other cues such as nodding your head and asking focused questions.

 

Have a goal

Walk into any networking event with a purpose. Before arriving at the event, determine what exactly you want to achieve by going. Set two realistic goals for yourself, such as meet five new people or learn about one specific organization. Having specific outcomes that you want to achieve will keep you focused at the event and prevent you from wandering around aimlessly.

 

Follow-up

The most important of a networking event is following up a few days after the event. Reach out to the people that you felt you made a connection with. Don’t send one generic email to all of the people you spoke with; use the notes you gathered at the event to tailor each email to the person you’re sending it to. Use this to also suggest any follow-up activity, such as an informational interview.