From the time that we start our professional careers, we are told that networking is key to professional growth. Although we all know this, it’s not easy for most of us to get out of our comfort zone to meet and make memorable connections with new people. For this reason, I, like most people avoid it. The thought of the prep work and go-get-’em attitude one has to muster up to not just attend an event but to successfully network is daunting and makes pushing networking to the bottom of my to-do list easy. So when a co-worker sent over a networking opportunity in our team group chat I thought ‘That’s nice for someone but not me’. After a moment though, I saw an opportunity to rope in a co-worker to attend this event with me in hopes that it would make the night a little less awkward.
After I committed to going to this event planning networking event, I now had to prepare. The first step was to make sure I had business cards – which I didn’t. The event was only a week away and I didn’t have time to get business cards expedited to me. So, I got creative and found a digital business card maker online. It was pretty bare-bones, but I could link my email, LinkedIn, and the Powered by Professionals website. I then linked this to a QR code that I could ask people to scan. Next, I needed to make an elevator pitch for both PBP and me. I did not find this easy, so I asked a co-worker if she could give me a rundown on how she pitches herself and the company. In the end, I had a few short sentences to share. Lastly, I picked out an outfit. I decided to go with a semi-professional look. I didn’t know what to expect and I thought this would work in many different scenarios.
On the day of the networking event, I made sure to spend fifteen minutes practicing my elevator pitch and preparing for the night. I made plans to meet my coworker around the corner from the event so we could walk in together. When we walked into the building, we were greeted by a few organization volunteers telling us where to put our coats and find our name tags. After this, we got something to drink as we thought it would be good to have something to hold onto. As we made our way through the group, we spotted two people that were not currently engaged in a conversation. We decided they would be our best bet to talk to first. We ended up chatting with them for about 5 minutes. They were both very nice and insightful as they had been in the industry much longer than us. We awkwardly exchanged business cards and we moved on to another group. In total, we talked to a nice bunch of people. At the end of the night, I felt I had a better understanding of the event planning industry and all the different jobs that exist within it. And now I definitely feel more comfortable with networking. I know that the more I put myself out there, the easier it will get.
Meeting new people can seem daunting but this first trial run gave me good experience to keep in my back pocket for the next networking event… which will be next week. Wish me luck!