Halloween is my favorite holiday; I’m not going to lie. I have fond memories of dressing up in fabulous homemade costumes and going door-to-door trick or treating, the goal to get as many goodies as possible. Every kid had a mission, and together we strategized to hit up as many houses for the best candy before it was time to go home. I’m beyond my trick or treating years but I have realized that nothing much has changed.
For example, many of us have traded in our fairy princess and cowboy costumes for “business professional”. Instead of going door-to-door asking for candy, we go to networking events and gather business cards, but the concept is still the same: we go in with a goal, strategize and gather as many “goodies” as we can before the event/night is over.
Here are a few tips and tricks that I learned from my many years as a Trick or Treater that are still applicable to today’s professional networking events.
Dress in your best costume
All you really get to do at networking events is a first impression: make it count. Wear your best professional business attire and look put together from head to toe. Keep in mind that some of the best costumes are created from simple well planned ideas.
Go in a group
Remember going around with your friends and families on Halloween night, you could trade candy, gossip and somehow everything seemed less scary with everyone around you. Networking events are always less intimidating if you go in a group! Bring a co-worker or professional associate and tag team the event. This will make you more comfortable and more likely to open up to new contacts and really engage in conversation instead of just waiting on the sidelines.
Getting as many goodies as possible
So what’s your goal? As kids we wanted the best candy, but as adults we want the best contacts. Don’t waste your time at a networking event speaking with individuals who don’t offer an opportunity to advance your professional aspirations. In order to determine who are the best contacts, the first question you should ask is “what’s your goal for this particular event?” If they answer with something relevant then take the time to network, but if not, politely excuse yourself from the conversation and move on. In other words, don’t waste your time with the house that gives out tooth brushes instead of the house with king size Snickers bars.
Going through the loot!
Bring home all of your “candy” to see what you got. Remember, you want to make sure that you are properly sorting through all the business cards you collected. Following-up with contacts is as important as attending the event itself. Contact the most relevant ones first to continue the conversation and interaction. Don’t forget to reach out to any and all relevant contacts on LinkedIn with a tailored message and then put the rest aside.
Most professionals will attend many networking events over the course of their careers, but are they networking effectively? Try out a few Trick or Treating tips and let us know how your next event goes.