Whoever said you can’t mix business with pleasure? Partying with a purpose is the name of the game these days. Check any upwardly mobile city across this great nation and you will see a variety of different networking events.
For my ambitious 20- somethings who are well versed in the networking game you need no caveat, but for the others who have never reaped the benefit of a free drink and good conversation.. well… you need to move.
Entrepreneurs and upstarts need to understand that there is an art to networking events. Given the financial inability and lack of budget that comes with starting a business; networking is a skill that one must learn quickly.
All that said, there are a couple things that one must know when either attending or throwing a networking event.
Good engaging convo is a must. Be witty, yet intellectual. Don’t talk too much about work, if any at all. Unless you have a cool job like running a magazine, chances are people are not really trying to hear about the test scripts you had to run. Unlike social networking you actually may have to have good conversation. Also fellas leave the pick-up lines in the car. I am not saying don’t try to get at the ladies because this is the perfect atmosphere, however do it in good taste.
I can’t tell you how many lames I see intentionally trying to do too much with the attire. Don’t come in there looking exactly like you did at work. Be stylish, but be comfortable. Networkers are in a very unique fashion space and you have to find your comfort zone. Fellas take off the sports coat and loosen up the tie, and ladies let your hair down and throw on some lip gloss, after all it is a party. Showing your personality is a must.
Even if you don’t have business cards just go to staples and get your name, email, and number on a card. Does wonders for your contacts. When in Rome do as the Romans do.
If you are going to be bumping your gums, do yourself and the people you talk to a favor– carry a FULL pack of mints. Emphasis on full I hate asking my friends for gum and they hit me with the “that’s my last piece” line. Be prepared.
This one is for those throwing the networker. Venue is everything. Non-traditional spaces that inspire conversation and engagement/ participation. Venue, venue, venue.
Food and beverage is a must. Small food that can be held on a napkin and
a nice variety of mixed drinks than won’t leave you too drunk. Nothing says party like free food and drink. Refreshments also ease the tension of having to talk to people the whole time, it gives you something else to do. Nobody wants to talk on an empty stomach.
So go forth and network.