Networking is an art. For some, it comes quite naturally. For others, the mere mention of the word gives rise to sweaty palms and a squeamish disposition. Some embrace networking as a professional requirement, while others rely on it to drive every bit of their success. If there’s one thing that rings true among professionals it’s this: networking is exhausting.
The expert networker approaches an event the way an athlete approaches a race; efficiency and energy conservation are key elements to success. Tomorrow, ReferralMob will be sponsoring the Boston Startup Job Fair, helping to facilitate meaningful introductions to some of Boston’s most innovative startups. To help you better prepare, we reached out to our Mobbers – dynamic social influencers and “elite athletes” of the business world who fuel our platform by connecting great people with great companies – for the best tips and tricks to nail the art of networking without experiencing networker’s fatigue.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. Do your research and shoot for quality. The easiest way to maximize efficiency is by identifying who you want to meet ahead of time, and what you want to communicate to them. Setting a strategy and preparing in advance will allow you to work the room effortlessly, with specific goals in mind. This way, you can focus on quality over quantity with ease, and you won’t leave with a fistful of business cards you’ll never follow up on. Find the most important people and focus on cultivating real connections.
2. Come prepared. Don’t show up hungry and thirsty. Despite how much you love crab rangoons, you are not there to eat, you are there to fulfill a purpose. Make sure you are well-hydrated and have the fuel you need to work the room. If you are thinking about food, you will not be on top of your game. And duh, don’t drink too much.
3. Be authentic and nail the introduction. First impressions are everything. Make sure you have your right hand free and your business cards within reach. The right balance of confidence and humility will get you very far. Be your most authentic self – you’ll be most comfortable that way. A firm handshake and focused eye contact goes a long way. Repeat the person’s name back to them, as you shake their hand. Not only is this a sign of respect, it’s a great trick for remembering names.
4. Be mindful of body language. People communicate a lot about themselves by just standing. Look for cues such as an open stance, invested eye contact and those who turn towards newcomers in groups. These “welcoming” behaviors indicate when someone is genuinely open to forging new relationships. These are people who will be open to connecting with you and with others on your behalf.
5. Help people, whenever you can. Take this opportunity to build upon your connections by making introductions and facilitating interactions whenever possible. The more value you can bring to people by connecting them with others, the more open doors you will encounter for yourself.
If you’re a jobseeker (or start-up enthusiast) interested in attending the Startup Job Fair, go ahead and register here. We’ll see you tomorrow.