Five Tips for Better Networking

Networking is an important skill for enhancing and improving your future success. Below are five strategies that can be used to take the work out of networking and make it fun:

1.Set SMART Networking Goals

Invigorate networking events by creating a series of SMART goals. SMART goal setting means that your goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. There are countless articles on the art of SMART goal setting, but don’t get hung up on the details. The point is to set goals that will make the event fun and engaging. Some goals that I have used in the past are:
  • I will meet five new people this evening and send a follow-up email containing an article or information that is relevant to our conversation within 48 hours of the event.
  • I will speak with three people who are not wearing black shoes.
  • I will help two people successfully make a new connection tonight.

2. Prepare 6.5 Interesting Questions

Listening is the most important skill for a good conversationalist. With that in mind, it is a fantastic idea to prepare 6.5 questions before any networking event. The six questions should be unique and interesting. Below are four examples of questions that are great for networking events: The 0.5 question should be the first half of a question that you complete once you are further into the conversation. For example, “If you could change one part of ________, what would it be? “ The question should be specific and relevant to your conversation.
  • If you could do anything, knowing that you would not fail, what would you do?
  • What’s the worst piece of advice you have ever received about your career?
  • What is something you want to achieve before the year is over?
  • If you were on a cross country road trip, would you prefer to share a car with Justin Trudeau or Jimmy Pattison?

3. Add Flair to Your Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a 30-second introduction that provides the other party a quick intro to who you are and what you do. Early in your career, it can be difficult to add individuality to your elevator pitch, so I recommend adding a bonus sentence that jump starts the conversation. This bonus information should be something positive, unique, and that you are enthusiastic about. For example, “My name is Sean Garrity. [insert elevator pitch] and I want to hike to Machu Picchu this summer.” We immediately have something to speak about.

4. Smile the Entire Event

Smiling can help you in three key ways:
  1. Smiling puts us in a better mood by releasing feel-good endorphins.
  2. Smiling reduces stress by limiting the release of cortisol, a hormone that increases stress levels.
  3. Smiling makes us appear more approachable.

5. Plan a Post-Event Coffee

Plan a time after each event to check-in with a friend or colleague. Reflect on how the event progressed, how you feel, and how different interactions felt. Talk about the questions you attempted and the responses that you received—did they work? Spend some time looking through the contacts you made and discuss a strategy for the best way to follow-up. This check-in should be fun and light hearted. It should be something that you are excited to do and a time where you can share stories about what happened at the event, laugh at your mistakes, and determine ways to be better prepared for next time.

I hope these five tips help you enjoy networking as much as I do. APEGBC regularly hosts networking events that can give you a chance to practice some of these skills.
Good luck, have fun, and keep smiling.

Sean Garrity, EIT, is a BCIT electrical engineering graduate and former Engineers and Geoscientists BC Student Member. He is now a junior engineer at BBA. If you are looking for opportunities to practice or expand your network, Sean invites you to connect on LinkedIn. He regularly attends and organizes networking events and seminars. 
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