Preparing for a Networking Event Like a Pro


I used to hate networking.

I used to absolutely hate networking. But let me explain. I was taught to network the wrong way. When most people think of networking, they have a stereotypical image in mind: a crowded conference room filled with individuals solely focused on how others in the room can benefit them. These traditional networking methods are what make it feel sleazy, awkward, and insincere. I started my networking journey with this mindset, and I absolutely hated it. However, along the way, I have learned several networking tips and tricks that have drastically changed my opinion and transformed the way I prepare to show up for events. In this post, I will walk you through my full networking pre-work process so that you feel confident and excited to attend your next professional event!

A Necessary Mindset Shift.

In order to overcome your negative perceptions of business events, you need to do a 180 on your mindset. Stop looking at the event as work, and start looking at it as an opportunity. I would challenge you to then take this mindset shift one step further. When looking at the event as an opportunity, look at it as an opportunity to help others, rather than as an opportunity to help yourself. This will combat the feeling of sleaziness and allow you to approach people with authenticity, seeking genuine opportunities for mutual connection. Prioritize your authenticity by showing genuine interest in others, actively listening, and asking thoughtful questions.

Define Your Goals.

An example from my personal life occurred this past year. I was invited to attend the Greater Victoria Business Banquet, an evening attended by professionals in a variety of industries, providing business students the opportunity to mix and mingle and grow their networks. Going into this event, I knew that I wanted to make more connections in the tech industry, as I was hoping to secure a job in the field after my graduation. I set a goal for the evening to talk to at least one professional in the industry to learn more about the types of opportunities available to new graduates.

Do Your Research

The final and most important step in your networking preparation is the research phase. It is crucial to prepare yourself so that you don't go into these events blind. I would argue that the research phase of preparation is one of the most critical networking strategies to set yourself up for success. Here are three things to research before heading into the event:

The Purpose of the Attendees

Why are the professionals attending the event? Is it to grow their own networks, looking for potential job candidates, or supporting a cause? By knowing the purpose of the attendees, you can better prepare your approach and avoid awkwardly asking for an opportunity to interview at a charity event.


Who are they?

If possible, make an effort to research the attendees prior to the event. This will allow you to prepare talking points and identify key contacts you wish to interact with. I would also encourage you to look for opportunities to provide your own help and services to the attendees, rather than purely asking for opportunities for yourself.


What's On the Agenda?

Whenever possible, familiarize yourself with the event's agenda. This allows you to plan out optimal times to connect with others and avoid missing out on any conversational opportunities. You can also use the agenda to research any keynote speakers and conference topics you may not be familiar with.

In Conclusion.

At the end of the day, the work you put into preparing for professional networking can be more important than what occurs during the event. If you can shift your mindset and look at networking as an opportunity, define clear goals for the event, and do your research, you are well on your way to networking success!

About the Author

Lauryn Orme brings you her own take on conquering the world of business and incorporating meaningful breaks into your life in order to prevent burnout.

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