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Networking is more than just introducing yourself to other people at conferences or expos. Nurturing these relationships and showing the people you’re talking to that you care is essential for cultivating lasting professional relationships. However, talking to new people and networking can take you way out of your comfort zone, as talking to people you don’t know can induce anxiety. Here are essential steps to keep in mind when preparing for a networking event

Choose the networking event that best suits you

Your time is valuable, simple as that. Even though there are a lot of hours in the day to do the things that are necessary, you may find yourself with a lack of spare time that’s necessary to network. You’re not going to be able to attend every networking event there is, so the best thing that is going to aid you in building up a proper network is to pick the best networking event that suits your needs. 

You should be first looking for the best events suited for your specific job industry. Then, you’ll want to obtain a speaker list to create a list of who you want to network with. Be sure to do your research when looking at who is hosting the event, so you can see how it’s set up. Finally, you’ll want to create a list of the events you wish to attend and see if they fit your schedule. 

Be sure to research

As stated previously, you’re not going to be able to meet everyone you’d like. This is where your research comes in. You’ll want to create a strategic plan of who you want to network with and why you’d like to connect with them. This plan should include a list of possible things you want to say. 

Look back at the list of people you want to network with and narrow it down to around three speakers and about five guests. Then, it’s your time to do your research. Look up the guests and speakers and see if there’s a spark– if you have anything in common, questions you might want to ask them, etc. Check out their social media accounts to see what they’re posting or read articles that have been published by or about them. 

Prepare what you’re going to say

The last thing that you want to do is to get in front of the person that you want to talk to and have nothing to say after the basic introduction. As pleasantries only get you so far, you’re going to need to create a list of things that you want to talk about, or better yet, create a little pitch as to why this speaker should network with you. Think of it as a small sales pitch, but about yourself. This gets you to break the ice with the person you’re talking to and get what you want to say out there in under a couple of minutes.