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How To Network Like A Rockstar

Every week you get invited to them.  You know you should attend.  It will be good for your career.  But what happens once you get there?  What can you do to prepare???

Here are 11 tips to make a great first impression and make the most of the event:

1) Be Yourself – Stop trying to impress people.  Relax, have fun, and be authentic.  This goes much further than you think.  If you need to have a drink to relax have one…ONE.

2) Bring Cards – business or calling cards, doesn’t matter which.  If you are unemployed and are without cards, you have a couple of choices.  For zero dollars you can design a 1/4 page flyer and print them off at home.  These are completely acceptable at networking events.  For some $ you can order cards online.  I used FedExOffice but you can use Vistaprint or whoever.  I was VERY pleased with the cardstock quality of the FedEx cards (I upgraded to the heavier paper option).  Two color, heavy cardstock, single-sided, rush-shipped for about $75.  Make sure you include your email address, cell #, and Twitter handle.  LinkedIn address is another good option to include.

3) Elevator Speech – Prepare a 10 second, one-sentence spiel about what you do.  Practice it so you don’t get caught saying “Uh…Uh…Well, I… uh…”.  When asked what you  do, give your speech, and ask what they do.  DO NOT VOMIT ON THEIR SHOES about how magical the widgets are that you sell.

4) Ask Questions – Opened ended questions are the best!  Bradley Will wrote an outstanding post called The Top Three Questions You Could Ever Ask At A Networking Event.  One example is “What do you enjoy most about what you do?”. People like talking about themselves.  If you ask great questions and then listen.  They will remember you as a great conversationalist.  (For some reason I am having flashbacks to Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead – read it if you haven’t already)

5) SMILE! – Even if you walk in the room and are thinking to yourself  “OMG WTF am I doing here” put on a happy face.  Nothing says “I’m approachable and authentic” quite like a smile.

6) Dress-Up – Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can show up in your pajamas.  Just because you are unemployed and/or broke doesn’t  mean you should look it.  The old rule  “Dress for the job you’d like to have next” applies here.  If you need help, ask Robin Walker.

7) Follow-Up – Connect on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Send them a tweet.  Also check out The Marketing Zen Group’s post Ten Things To Do Immediately Following A Networking Event.  Great tips include sending an email as soon as you get home,  posting pictures to Facebook, and thanking the host.

8 ) Attend Often – Whether it’s once a week or once a month, become a familiar face in the crowd.  This will lead to more introductions for you and you can  help connect others.

9) Be Positive – Even if you hate your current boss and /or company speak with passion about what you do…”I LOVE testing widgets!”

10) Shake Firmly – NO DEAD FISH ALLOWED!  I don’t care if you went to finishing school and were taught to curtsy, shake a hand like you mean it.  A firm handshake = instant respect.

11) Show up with a Top 5 List – Take a look at the guest list and pick out five people you’d like to meet.  Research them on Google, LinkedIn, their blog, Twitter, etc.  Find out what they’re currently up to so you can ask relevant questions when you meet.  Be upfront about your research so you don’t appear creepy (e.g.  I was hoping  I’d run into you tonight.  I read your post regarding the future of widgets…”)

I’m sure to have missed some crucial tips so please comment with more!

Rock on!

This post is Day 3 of The 28 Day Blogging Challenge

This post is dedicated to my awesome brother, Steve Johnson (@Mcfixit), who is my confident, supporter, and webmaster.

Photo courtesy of Flickr and WilshirePix