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How to Make the Most of In-Person Networking Events

Thursday | March 15, 2018 | by Sarah Hua

Business people networking

When you sign up to participate in career fairs, networking events, or professional development conferences, it is beneficial for you to ensure you make the most out of your attendance. Events like these are a great way to connect with other professionals who are in your industry, build your confidence, and access the hidden job market.

Our partners from Progress Career Planning Institute (PCPI) will be hosting their 15th IEP Conference on March 22–23. This event is dedicated to helping internationally educated professionals (IEPs) gain industry knowledge, build their network, and find employment opportunities. To ensure you get the most out of this event—or any in-person event—you can make use of the following strategies:

Do Your Research

All in-person events are networking opportunities for you to build your social capital, learn from others, and create positive impressions. When attending any in-person event, you should maximize your opportunities by coming prepared with a strategy. Time is limited and getting what you need from the session can be overwhelming. To make the most of your networking opportunity, do your research in advance to help you focus, plan, and navigate the event. For example, by researching the event’s program schedule or the intended audience, you can get an overview of how the day will look, identify which people you would like to connect with and focus on presentations you’d like to attend.

Once you have a better sense of who is attending, create a list and conduct further research using a search engine or professional platforms like LinkedIn to learn more about the career history or any known affiliated associations of the individuals you are targeting. This preparation can help you formulate questions in advance so when you connect during the event, you have more engaging conversations, which results in a great first impression and makes you stand out.

Develop an Elevator Pitch

Another key strategy when attending an in-person event is having a strong elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a 30- to 45-second presentation in which you sell yourself through sharing key experiences and accomplishments that reflect your career goals. Preparing the pitch about yourself requires you to review your strengths, key successes, and areas of focus. An example of a strong elevator pitch is:

“Hello, my name is Emily and I’m a financial advisor with over 5 years of experience helping clients plan for their future. My expertise is relationship building and I have successfully developed plans that resulted in 10 clients achieving early retirement, 50 families putting their children through university, and 20 clients buying their first homes. I have a strong work ethic and a passion for seeing my clients succeed.”

Once you’ve prepared your elevator pitch, keep in mind you may have to make adjustments to it depending on who you are networking with. For example, the focus area and messaging of your pitch would be different when speaking with a fellow IEP Conference attendee compared to a potential employer. An elevator pitch is a chance for you to share information about yourself effectively. Keep in mind that it is best to keep the pitch short, relevant, and engaging to the listener to ensure good conversations. The more you network, the more practice you will have at delivering your elevator pitch, which will give more confidence in selling your abilities.

Network

Now that you are ready to network, start networking by first introducing yourself to people who are not on your target list. By connecting with others first, this will give you an opportunity to get comfortable, learn from each experience, and adapt, as well as build your confidence to tackle your targeted list of people. Practice makes perfect. Networking is a two-way conversation, so make sure you are not doing all the talking. Feel free to ask questions and engage the other person in conversation.

Some common best practices for networking includes ensuring you stand a comfortable distance from the person and you give your full attention during the conservation. At the end of the conversation, you should ask for a business card. Obtaining their business card will give you all their contact information and will open up future opportunities for more discussions. If possible, you should also have a business card with your contact information that you can share with others throughout the event.

Follow-Up and Nurture

After any in-person event, it is important that you take the time to connect with those you networked with. You can do this by sending a follow-up email or by using a platform like LinkedIn to connect and keep in touch. A follow-up message should indicate when and where you met, the purpose of your follow-up, and a personal message.

For example:

Hi Joanne,

It was great to meet you at the IEP Conference last week. Your presentation was excellent and very informative. I’m hoping to connect because I had a few additional questions after reviewing my notes in regards to the material presented. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Joe

It is important to continue the conversation beyond the follow-up to ensure you nurture the relationship. This can be done throughout the year by sending interesting articles, information on other events, congratulatory messages for any promotions or successful completion of projects, or even wishing them a happy new year. Continuing the conversation is a great way to stay relevant on their mind, and should they come across any relevant job opportunities you can be sure they will think of you.

To learn more, watch our webinar on Networking Your Way to Success with PCPI. Remember, networking is not about immediately getting a job, the goal is to build meaningful relationships that are beneficial to both parties.

If you would like to take advantage of the next big in-person event to practice these strategies, make sure you attend the IEP Conference on March 22 and 23, 2018.

“The IEP conference is celebrating over 15 years of providing IEPs with information, resources and networking opportunities to succeed in Canada. The IEP Conference is regarded as one of the most innovative and respectful events for IEP newcomers seeking practical, effective career advice.”

– Michael Marville, PCPI

To attend, register here.

Sarah Hua

Sarah Hua is a Program Manager at WES Global Talent Bridge Canada.