For some people, the idea of networking – that is, making new professional contacts in a social context – is scary. If you have a quiet personality, going to an event and speaking to people you don’t know, in the hope that they will become a useful contact, is a major concern. We’ve put together some tips that might help.
If you’re not confident about formal networking, then start with people you already know. If you’re looking for work or want to expand your network, tell friends and family about your situation. Ask them if they know anyone who works in your field, and give them your business card to pass on to their friends of friends.
When you meet new people at social events, mention you’re looking for work. You never know who they might know and who is coming to your friend’s birthday party or who your fellow football players know.
Formal networking: preparation
If you’re attending a formal networking event, preparation will help.
First, decide what you want to achieve. Do you want to find out more about a particular company or job role, or just to speak to new people? Reminding yourself of your goal will help you keep things in perspective on the day.
Take business cards with you, and practise your “soundbites” – a couple of sentences that introduce yourself and what you do (or what you’re looking for).
Arriving early can help – if you get there before the crowds, you’ll have time to relax and familiarise yourself with the surroundings.
How to start a conversation
You might be tempted to wait for people to come to you. But this is rarely a good networking tactic! You’ll need to start conversations yourself.
Before you approach anyone, remember to smile. People tend to reflect facial expressions, so if you frown or look worried you’ll make others do the same. They’re more likely to want to talk to you if you look like you’re having a nice time.
Look for people on their own, or in small groups, to make your networking debut. If everyone is already talking, don’t try and break into close-knit circles; look for people who are looking around as they talk to each other.
When you do speak, don’t start with a speech immediately. A comment on your common situation works well: “how did you hear about this event?”, “did you enjoy the presentation?” or even, “this food is good!”
Now you’re talking
Most people enjoy telling you about themselves, and if you’re shy or introverted you’re probably a good listener. So use this to your advantage: ask questions!
As well as the obvious work questions, ask about their wider interests; they may surprise you with some interesting hobbies, or activities you have in common. If you get chatting about the things they’re passionate about – especially if you remember the details and base your questions on these – they’ll be more likely to remember you positively.
At some point, they should ask you about yourself in return. Now’s the time to use your “soundbites” – and if possible, link them back to things they’ve told you.
Once you’ve got talking, you might be tempted not to move on. But you’re here to network, so ask them, “do you know anyone else here?” and see if they can introduce you to someone new.
When the conversation ends, don’t just disappear! Smile and tell them it was interesting to talk. If you would like to talk again in the future, or if there was something you’d like to follow up on, offer your card or ask for theirs.
Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want to talk to you. Many people at networking events are there with a goal in mind; you may just not fit their criteria that day.
After an event, it’s polite to thank the host, and whoever passed on the invitation, with a quick note or email.
If you did chat with someone about things you’ve read or done, and they suggested they’d like to know more, contact them with the information within a couple of days or add them to your LinkedIn network.
Living and Working Conditions in EURES countries
EURES Jobs Database
EURES services for employers
EURES Events Calendar
Upcoming Online Events
EURES on Facebook
EURES on Twitter
EURES on LinkedIn
- Publication date
- 1 November 2018
- European Labour Authority | Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
- Business / EntrepreneurshipHints and tipsRecruiting trends
- Accomodation and food service activitiesActivities of extraterritorial organisations and bodiesActivities of households as employers, undifferentiated goods- and servicesAdministrative and support service activitiesAgriculture, forestry and fishingArts, entertainment and recreationConstructionEducationElectricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supplyFinancial and insurance activitiesHuman health and social work activitiesInformation and communicationManufacturingMining and quarryingOther service activitiesProfessional, scientific and technical activitiesPublic administration and defence; compulsory social securityReal estate activitiesTransportation and storageWater supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activitiesWholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles