I’ve found, over time, a few common factors across most networking events. If you’re feeling intimidated by these events, keep these things in mind:
- Try attending a few events alone. When people attend networking events with friends or colleagues, they tend to create a comfort bubble and chat among themselves—which, by default, leads to far less networking with others
- Know that most people feel a bit awkward when they arrive at an event and do an initial survey of the scene—but remember, they’re all there there to network too. That’s the point. Don’t be afraid to walk up to an individual or group and ask what brings them to the event
- The more events you go to—and the more you reach out to strangers—the more people you’ll know next time (and you will see many of the same people again, so it will only get easier!)
- If the event itself is not a great environment for meeting others (too noisy, too crowded, not enough time, etc.), make plans for a follow up lunch, coffee or gathering with other friends who you know would have something to add to the conversation. I met some great friends in the city through a simple follow up at a networking event for interns years ago
- Volunteering at an event is one of the single greatest ways to break the ice—you have an automatic in with those who are running the event and other volunteers
How do you approach networking events?