Networking events can be a great way to learn about different industries, hear about career opportunities and connect with people who have similar interests.

Here are 10 tips to help make your attendance at the next networking event (or workplace party) a success:

1) Ask open-ended questions – Kick off conversations by asking sincere, open-ended questions. People like to talk about what they do and their areas of expertise, and they like to share their stories. Think of “what” and “how” questions to find out more about something or someone. Examples include: What do you do? How do you like what you do? What brought you to this event tonight? What speaker are you looking forward to hearing? What are the latest trends in your industry? How do you know the event’s host?

2) Listen – It’s amazing how much this can make a difference. Listen. Actively listen to what others are saying – without thinking about what you’re going to say next or looking around the room. Wait until they are finished with what they are going to say and ask another question to get more details. There aren’t a lot of great listeners out there; people long for a good listener. Use the event to practice this skill!

3) Be authentic – Most of us can spot a fake, so keep it real. Feel comfortable admitting what you don’t know and use the situation to learn more. Know you’re good enough exactly where you are in your life, and you have nothing to prove. Be open to the experience and bring your most confident, authentic self.

4) Pay attention to your body language – Nothing new here, but we can often forget the role body language plays when we’re talking with people we’ve just met or don’t know well. As reminders – keep eye contact and ensure you have a firm handshake. (And keep your drink in your left hand to help ensure that handshake isn’t cold and wet!) Keep an open body position; don’t have your arms crossed when you’re talking. If someone new joins your group, open up the circle to include that person.

5) Prepare your own one-liner – If someone asks you what you do for a living or why you are attending the event, have an answer ready so you can be clear and confident.

6) Go with intention – If you want to learn something specific or meet someone in particular during the networking event, be clear about that ahead of time so you can manage your time and conversations accordingly.

7) Stay in touch – For those you’d like to talk with more, invite them to stay in touch. You can do so without being too intrusive. Try something like: “Well, it would be great to talk about this further. Shall we exchange business cards?” Or “What do you think about grabbing coffee sometime and exchanging notes about <something specific and professional related to your conversation>?”

8) Show some style – Wear something you’re comfortable in and ensure it’s appropriate for the event. Most event invitations will include directions on appropriate attire. If not, ask someone who has attended the event in the past and err on being conservative.

9) Limit the alcohol – Haven’t we all seen someone who has had too much to drink at a work event? ‘Nough said.

10) Enjoy yourself – Are you walking into the event with dread or cheerfulness? People want to hang out with those who have positive energy. So, have a positive mindset before you walk through the door.

A Maya Angelou quote that I often reference: “… people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So, if you help people feel valued during your conversations – that’s success!

Do you have other networking recommendations you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments section below…

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