Whether you are the Public Relations Director for a multi-million dollar corporation or an intern at a local marketing firm, networking remains a crucial element in advancing your career. Sure, social networking via LinkedIn and Twitter is important, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction. What is a future employer going to remember more: receiving a “favorite” on their tweet or a firm handshake greeting at a networking luncheon? A firm handshake wins every time. Landing your dream job is not only about what you know, but who you know.

Here are some networking tips that will help you nail your next networking event.

Do your homework prior to the event

Research the event. Find out what kind of professionals will be attending and then make a list of the people you wish to speak with. Brainstorm some possible questions or conversation-starters beforehand. The more prepared you feel, the more relaxed you will be. Also, remember the CEO of a big corporate agency may not be able to do as much for you as middle-level manager at a local company. There is a much greater chance that the mid-level manager would be available to meet up for lunch and discuss job opportunities with you.

Take time to explore the crowd

Networking events can be nerve-racking. This causes people to sit at the same table with people they already know. When you do this, you are missing out! You are there to make as many connections as possible. Step out of your comfort zone and try to make your way through the entire room, striking up as many good conversations as possible. People like to talk about themselves and their job, so if you are struggling to find topics, ask questions. You will thank yourself when you are leaving the event with a handful of business cards and new connections.

Dress to impress

When entering a networking event, you are entering a room full of potential employers. Your outfit should represent the kind of professional you are. Invest in a business suit and nice dress shoes. Make sure that you feel comfortable in your attire, so that you can be confident when entering the room.

Bring business cards to expand your network

There is something personable and memorable about exchanging business cards, compared to asking to enter contact information into each other’s smart phones. A business card will be seen after the event is over. Giving someone your card is a natural and easy way to suggest a follow-up conversation.

Don’t let your networking efforts be in vain – follow up

This is crucial, as it makes or breaks your networking relationships. Ask to meet again over e-mail or find your new contact on LinkedIn and connect with them. Show your appreciation and thank them for taking the time to talk with you at the event. You should leave every event with at least three people to connect with afterward. Make your original conversation even more memorable by suggesting a second. It can be a request to simply chat over coffee, or ask them to review your resumé. After a physical meeting, send a handwritten thank you note or email including something you learned from them. Be sincere, because expressing your genuine interest in someone’s career can go a long way in making a person remember you in the future.

Networking is an important skill in any work field, and with all skills, it takes time and practice. It can be overwhelming; however, the more networking luncheons, panels and conferences you attend, the more natural it will become.  Don’t be afraid to throw yourself into a room full of strangers. You never know, they might just lead you on your next pathway to greater success. At Cork Tree Creative, we are always striving to become better. Let us help you do the same. Give us a call at (618) 656-7333, find us on social media or online at www.corktreecreative.com