Every encounter can serve as a networking opportunity, especially for those who are embarking on a career. Therefore, it is important to get as much as you can out of these meetings, whether they are scheduled or happen by chance. As Boy or Girl Scouts, we learned that we should always be prepared and this is especially true when it comes to networking.
The key to making a networking opportunity effective is to make the other person remember you. Being confident and self-assured will make people recall their encounter with you long after the interaction has ended. Anyone who is shy at networking events should volunteer to be a greeter because this helps to build confidence with speaking simply by performing the designated role.
Dress the part, whether the event is formal or casual, presenting a fresh and unrumpled appearance. Add some flair to a name tag or your outfit to make yourself stand out. Some women wear fashionable pins, while men have distinctive ties that spark conversation. At an official networking event, prominently display the name tag near the shoulder. As you introduce yourself, the other party can look at the tag.
When introducing yourself, use a distinctive greeting, rather than the standard name, college, and major. Explain how you plan to make a contribution to the world after graduating. This will most likely spark questions, which should lead to a conversation. It is a self-marketing opportunity that arises naturally, rather than being forced.
Introductions should be made to each person you see at a networking event. Do not be afraid to ask people their names if you met them elsewhere and have forgotten. When at an informal event, take advantage of the opportunity to strike up a one-on-one conversation over coffee or tea. Afterward, send an email or note whenever possible, thanking the person for the conversation.