One key relationship building activity that people benefit from is attending networking events. This is especially true for people in transition. The key is to find the right events for you to attend based on your desired job search path.
After you have identified the right event, it is time to prepare. Do your homework prior to the networking event to make the best use of your time.
Many events provide you with a list of some of the key people who will be attending. Review that list and determine the people you want to make sure you meet during the event. Develop a list of questions that you would like to ask them during the event.
Reach out to the people who are responsible for organizing the networking event and ask them who they suggest that you connect with during the event. Also, ask the organizer if they would be open to meeting briefly with you prior to the start of the event. Best case, you will get one or more warm introductions. Either way, you will have a target list of people to meet.
Get to the event early and introduce yourself to the organizer. When you do, ask them if they would be open to introducing you to the person/ people that they referenced when you previously reached out to them.
The purpose for attending the event is relationship building, and you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Most people, when they get introduced to people, focus their time on what they know – their skills and abilities. Please refer to the blog Likability Matters More. Your focus in that conversation should be more on making a connection with the person you are being introduced to. Whether you received a warm introduction or introduced yourself to one of the people you wanted to meet during the meeting, the best way to start building a relationship is to focus on giving. That is much more easily done by asking a question that references the networking meeting topic.
After your initial conversation, jot a few notes on their business card or in your notebook, and send them a follow up email, thanking them for making the time and asking for a follow up conversation.
Remember, if your reason for attending a networking event is “You may meet someone who knows someone” – then you should seriously consider focusing your efforts on something other than attending the event. Network with purpose, it can make all the difference in positioning you for your next opportunity.