Attending any networking event can be a bit nerve wracking! It can feel awkward and forced, but it’s essential for developing your career and your network in any industry – before you need it.
Feeling prepared can help make everything go smoothly, and we’ve got you covered. Here are our tips on how to prepare for and get the most out of ConnectOTT (or any other event!) this year.
BEFORE THE EVENT
Are you looking for a mentor? A career? Advice on how to get a promotion? Having an end goal in mind, will help you frame any questions you may have for the industry leaders you speak with. Have a mental list of industry and career related questions ready to go so you can work them into conversations. (Make sure to have questions!)
Check out their detailed profiles on our website and look them up on LinkedIn before you meet. Learn one random fact about the leaders in your category that you can use to strike up a conversation.
Make sure your profile is up to date and includes your current career details. If your profile photo is from 2008, maybe it’s time for an update! Optimize your LinkedIn profile so that it is easily searchable for any connections that you make before, during and after the event. You never know who you’ll make an impression on that is researching YOU!
Make sure your business cards are ready to go and up to date – bring no less than 50 with you for the night.
It sounds funny, but it can be really make for an awkward intro especially if you’re guilty of the “lobster claw“. Find a pal to practice with, and nail down a confident handshake to make a great first impression.
Find leaders in your categories of choice on Twitter and follow them before the event. There will be lots of live tweeting during the event, and even a live feed projecting the @ConnectOTT account and the event hashtag (#connectott) on our Twitter wall. Check our website for the full list of the Industry Leader Twitter handles.
You don’t want to sound pre-rehearsed. Think about what you do, what you love and what makes you great, but don’t get stuck in “sales mode”. Focus on natural conversation, listening to others and asking questions. Asking questions instead of only talking about yourself, can help you quickly discover things in common and build relationships.
You never know when you’ll need to write down en email, phone number or important fact to remember someone by.
Your wardrobe can have a major impact on your mood and confidence. Pay attention to the dress code and make sure you dress accordingly. You don’t want to stick out by being super under-dressed. When in doubt, try to find pictures from last year on social media to get a feel for the room. We’ve got some of those too.
FYI – ConnectOTT’s dress code = business. (Pants are not optional – sorry!)
DURING THE EVENT
Try to leave your phone in your pocket or face down during dinner conversation. You’ll appear more approachable and be less distracted. Share your #ConnectOTT experience when you have downtime between conversations.
Talk to everyone around you, no regrets; don’t leave the event leaving anything on the table – take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. ConnectOTT is only once a year. Make sure to learn at least one new thing about a few young professionals at your table and around the room – networking with your peers is just as valuable.
Always make eye contact when shaking hands or having conversation with anyone. It shows your are confident and paying attention.
Use the #ConnectOTT hash tag when posting about the event on social media, so you can easily connect and find others who are there with you! Take part in the live tweeting during the event, and take your connections even further by tweeting at Industry Leaders or other young professionals after you meet them. (P.S. We’re on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!)
Each time you get a business card, remember to take a second and write something to remember them by that you can use later when you reach out. (They love sushi /they interned at the same company you’re at now/they have 6 dogs) Nothing worse than finding a stack of cards 3 months later and completely forgetting who they are. (Wah Wah)
AFTER THE EVENT
15. Solidify your connections on social.
Add your business card contacts to LinkedIn and Twitter within 2 days of the event. If you leave it any longer than that and you’ll risk forgetting entirely.
16. Don’t let connections go cold.
Did you have a memorable conversation with someone at the event? Make sure you message those you made a connection with to thank them for their time or let them know it was great to meet them. You never know where this conversation can take you!
Any other tips we’ve missed for young professionals out there? Tweet at us using the hash tag #ConnectOTT.