If you find yourself constantly refreshing the LinkedIn job search app, or desperately checking your emails waiting for a response from a recruiter, it’s time to mix it up. With so many people in the market for a new job, you have to do everything you can to stand out from the crowd.
It’s time to get out from behind your computer, network and make some connections that will set you up for success.
Here are five things you can do at events to network your way to a new job:
1. Get organised before the event
Before you throw yourself head first into a long list of networking events, take the time to think about your priorities and what you want to achieve from every event. It could be meeting people at a particular company you are interested in, or perhaps you want to learn something new and broaden your knowledge base.
Also think about who you attend the event with. While it’s always nice to have a friend or colleague as a safety blanket, consider heading along alone. It will force you to get out of your comfort zone and make the most of the event, and avoid the temptation of hiding in the corner with the free canapés!
2. Look outside events in your own industry
Some of the best networking events I have ever been were outside my industry, and I was the odd one out. These events were great because I learned heaps, met some really interesting people and was more memorable, because I was a little bit different. Having a point of difference was a great conversation starter, and rapidly built my networks with helpful and interested people.
If you are looking for a career change, attending events in different industries isn’t just a great way to build your networks; it’s also a good way to start identifying your relevant transferable skills. Sign up for events in the industry you are interested in and make the effort to find out as much as you can about the other people at the event. Tell them you are looking for a change and ask for their advice, you never know where this might lead you!
3. Nail your elevator pitch before you go
Walking into a room full of strangers can be intimidating. Particularly if you are an introvert, it can be hard not to walk straight back out!
Getting your elevator pitch down pat before you go to a networking event is key to alleviating some of the awkwardness you might feel when you go to an event. It will help you clearly articulate who you are and what you stand for, and avoid mumbling and missing a good opportunity.
Think about who you are and what you offer. What makes you unique? What are you passionate about? Also think about the other attendees at the event: will they appreciate your industry jargon, or should you talk more generally about your skills and role? Make sure you tailor your elevator pitch before you go to get your new relationships off to a strong start.
4. Focus on sharing knowledge and learning something new
While this may seem counter intuitive, when you enter the room, take the focus off finding a new job and be in the moment, ready to learn. If you are desperately seeking an opportunity from a particular event, your interactions may feel forced and block a good discussion. Talk to people and ask for their advice. If your goal is making genuine connections when you network, you should feel more at ease instead of feeling like you are on display, or desperate!
5. Don’t stop the conversation after you leave the room
One of the hardest things about networking is staying on someone’s radar after you have met them. If you have a great chat, or think there might be a good opportunity with a new connection you meet, it’s really important that you take the lead and keep the conversation rolling.
If it helps take quick notes on your phone, or on their business card to keep key points fresh in your memory after an event. This will help you be more specific when you follow up after the event, and avoid having to send a generic follow up emails.
Now it’s up to you. Make the commitment this year to get out of your safety zone, go to events and create opportunities not just to find a new job, but also set your career up for long term success.