Have you ever thought about attending a professional networking event to help find your next job opportunity? As an Executive Recruiter in the management consulting world, networking is one of the keys to my success. I enjoy networking with everyone I come across because you never know who you will meet. They could potentially be the next consultant, new prospective client, next employer, a mentor or even a friend.
Most business professionals know that networking is important but choose not to participate in it effectively. Globalization and Technology has made ‘employment for life’ a thing of the past. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in January of 2016 the median number of years a US employee stays with a current employer was 4.2 years. It is not just employers laying off employees, but employees leaving their jobs for better compensation and greater career opportunities.
For candidates, professional networking can help minimize the time you spend looking for your next job opportunity and for recruiters it can help you find your next candidate or client. There are many ways to expand your professional network. Most people use professional social networking sites like LinkedIn, which is an excellent networking tool. However, I am a strong believer in face-to-face networking because one can make a lasting impression if you prepare yourself.
A few important tips that holds true to me when attending a professional networking event, whether it’s looking for a new opportunity or enhancing your professional network:
Give a firm hand shake with eye contact.
Have a 30-second elevator speech prepared and rehearsed.
Dress in business attire i.e. a conservative suit – like what you would wear to an interview.
Pay attention during the conversation and show your interest about the other persons needs and concerns.
Don't forget to exchange business cards.
If they don’t have a business card, ask if they have a LinkedIn account and connect with them right away.
If you are actively looking for employment, ensure to introduce yourself to prospective Hiring Managers and Recruiters.
Send a follow-up email after the event within 24-hours to stay in touch.
Remember the more you attend networking events and meet new people the easier it gets!