The Essential Guide to Networking for Non-Networkers

Man listneing intently to talking woman outside.

Networking events are one of the greatest resources available to you when you’re in the market for a new job. Whether you are unemployed and diligently pursuing, or employed and casually browsing your options, networking events are an efficient way to meet people, spark a relationship and make an impression that could turn into something fruitful down the line.

Some people are naturals at events like these, effortlessly striking up conversations with folks they don’t know, cracking jokes, sharing laughs, swapping information or materials and generally seeming to enjoy themselves. Other folks…well…they’d rather be just about anywhere else. And honestly, that’s ok.

Nonetheless, whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, a networking event is a unique opportunity specifically catered to help you on your career path. Here’s our essential guide to networking for non-networkers.

Be Prepared

A networking event is only as beneficial as you want it to be. You could attend an event, stand alone in a corner, wait for someone to approach you and leave without ever engaging with a single person. While that may be entirely preferable for an introvert, we don’t recommend it. Instead, we suggest preparing yourself for a networking event. Set a specific goal, such as “I’m going to make an effort to meet five people I don’t know” or “I’m going to give my business card to at least 10 people.” Speaking of business cards, prepare to make an impression. Have something tangible like a business card or a resume that you can physically hand to somebody. They may not remember what kind of job you told them you’re looking for, but they will be able to see your experience listed on the CV you gave them and email you back if they’re interested in talking more.

Remember Names

American writer, lecturer and all-around people person Dale Carnegie once said “A person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” Remembering names is a powerful and relatively easy tool to make any networking event a great event.

To start, remember your name! What we mean is, help other people remember who you are by wearing a name tag. Ideally, name tags or stickers ought to be provided at a networking event. But in case they’re not, come prepared by bringing one with you. In the rare event that name tags are not provided, and even if you’re the only person wearing one, it’s much more likely that people will appreciate the effort and remember you than if you weren’t wearing one.

Similarly, make an effort to remember other people’s names. The very definition of networking is exchanging information with other people and developing relationships. A general recommendation is to say someone’s name aloud at least twice more during your interaction after they’ve introduced themself to you. The repetition helps information stick in your memory. If you have a terrible memory and are afraid of forgetting, a useful tip is to write names down in a notepad or even a note in your phone. You may even add additional notes, such as “Mike Thompson – IT at Thompson Technologies – Tall guy with white shirt and black glasses.” Remembering someone’s name goes a long way in making an impression that could pay dividends down the road.

It’s Ok To Walk Away

Our third and final tip to successfully navigating a networking event even if you’re an introvert is that it’s ok to walk away. Hear us here – we’re not recommending you turn around and leave (remember, you set specific goals)! What we mean is that the point of a networking event is to meet as many people as possible. Of course, it’s always nice to hit it off with someone, and it can be tempting to remain in the safety of familiarity. But even if you’ve really connected with someone, the best thing you can do for yourself is – at an appropriate time – graciously excuse yourself to go meet other people. To be honest, your new best bud may want to do the same. If you brought business cards or copies of your resume, consider an exchange with another individual a win and move on.

Likewise, if someone else excuses themself to move onto another engagement, don’t take it personally! They’re there for the same reason you are: to network and further their (or someone else’s) career.

Network With AP Professionals

Networking as a non-networker can be difficult and even stressful, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. That’s why we do what we do. AP Professionals of Rochester has been creating and maintaining valuable professional relationships in and around Rochester, NY for over 25 years. Why? Because we love this metro, we love the people in it and we want others to share that love with us. If you’re a professional looking for a job in the accounting & finance, engineering & operations, information technology, administrative or human resource fields, connect with us today. We have a large network of companies and clients looking for skilled professionals, just like you.