Posted on 08/26/2021


What is one thing you must do at your first networking event? 

To help workers navigate their first networking event, we asked business professionals and experienced networkers this question for their best advice. From picking an ice breaker question to perfecting the elevator pitch, there are several tips that may help first-timers prepare for a successful networking event.

Here are eight ways to prepare for your first networking event:

  • Bring Business Cards
  • Give Yourself Grace
  • Pick an Ice Breaker Question
  • Get Plenty of Rest Prior
  • Be Sincere in Interactions
  • Plan Out Your Important Points
  • Let the Other Person Speak First
  • Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

Bring Business Cards

Bring a business card whenever you attend a networking event. Even if you have a great conversation with someone, you still need an efficient way of exchanging information with the people you speak with so that you can continue to form strong professional relationships with them if needed. 

Chris Caouette, Gorilla Bow

Give Yourself Grace  

Networking events may be uncomfortable, and that goes for everyone. So don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Making one meaningful connection is better than making no connections at all. Whether from a different industry or seniority level, sit or stand next to someone new and strike up a conversation or participate in an activity. Not every conversation will go well especially in the beginning, but give yourself some slack. With consistent practice, you will get better at networking. It’s a great skill to have for personal and professional growth.

Rronniba Pemberton, Markitors

Pick an Ice-Breaker Question  

These can be basic questions such as asking about their day or probing questions such as asking what their dream job growing up was. It’s hard to come up with things on the spot, so have some conversation tools mentally prepared. It also helps to look up pop culture, so you can bring up the latest meme, news report, or video.

Harry Morton, Lower Street

Get Plenty of Rest Prior 

Make sure to get enough sleep beforehand so that you feel refreshed. Even if you’re dressed up, you know what you want to say and you know what kinds of people you want to connect with, you must make a good first impression. To do this, it involves being energized and alert.

Mary Berry, Cosmos Vita

Be Sincere in Interactions

One thing you must do at your first networking event is to be sincere in your conversations with the other attendees. Sincerity makes you memorable to the other party and paints a great first impression of you. You can demonstrate sincerity by asking them what they do first, before pitching them. Remember to listen attentively, and actively, and be genuinely interested in what they are saying. Listen out for any issues or problems they have that you might be able to help with, and pitch your services accordingly. 

Sai Blackbyrn, Coach Foundation

Plan Out Your Important Points 

The more networking events you attend, the more likely you’ll be to come across certain people more than once, so this is why it’s important to make a good impression at your first networking event. Plan out any conversation starters and important things you want to say, make sure you’re dressed well and carry yourself with a dynamic and professional demeanor. All of these practices can go a long way to a positive reputation which will help you greatly in your professional life.

Amber Theurer, ivee

Let the Other Person Speak First 

Here is a networking pro tip: let the other person speak first. Introduce yourself and then ask them a question to let them speak at length before you launch into a lengthy spiel. If you approach someone and start chatting nonstop, they are less likely to be fully engaged. By showing interest in them over pitching yourself right off the bat, you’re more likely to hold their attention when you speak. People are typically more relaxed and receptive when they’ve seen that someone is interested in who they are and what they have to say. Have some questions prepared in your mind to ask people to break the ice so when you meet someone you’re ready to let them speak first.

Courtney Buhler, SugarLash PRO

Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

If you are going into your first networking event, make sure you have prepared a “pitch” for yourself that you could share in a single elevator ride (so around 30 seconds). Having a clear, structured, and incisive pitch that encompasses your origins, studies, and professional experience can be of much help in an environment that will be packed with fierce competition and short attention spans for each individual.

Daniel Torres, Zety

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