Making an Impact At an Event
Author: Phil Kasiecki
Published: January 18th, 2018
You know the importance of networking, whether to get ahead in your current job or while looking for your next job. If you're a job seeker, you likely hear about it all the time. You probably also hear the statistics about what percentage of jobs are found via networking.

A key part of building relationships – networking – involves going to networking events, where you will be one of many professionals looking to build your network, and with that carries much opportunity.

What is the best way to make an impact at one of them and walk away with a feeling of "mission accomplished"? Here are a few keys.

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Have a plan. This is important in more ways than one. There is the big picture - what do you hope to do at this event? There is also the smaller picture – what will you talk about?

For the first, you want to have an idea of what your goal is before you go to the event. Is it to meet a certain number of people, period? Is it to meet people from a particular company or industry, or who work in a particular field? It helps if you can see an attendee list in advance, but this may not always be possible.

For the second, it should come naturally, but if the event has a certain focus – for example, a networking event with technical professionals, or people who work in insurance – you may want to have your mind ready to especially focus on one particular area. Being prepared for this will help you manage your conversations in the most productive way.

The second also follows from the first. If you have a big picture plan, you know how you want to drive your conversations, especially if you find out quickly that someone you are meeting may not be an ideal connection for you and you want to make sure you meet plenty of other people who might.


(Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash)
Know how to work a room. At a networking event, some ground rules help you proceed. One is to freely talk to anyone who is alone, while not jumping into a conversation between two people unless you already know both of them. With an exchange between three or more people, you can often work your way into the conversation by walking into the space where they are.

As you meet people, ask about what they do, then inquire further whether you know about their industry or profession or not. Ask about what they like about it, what draws them to it and keeps them coming back, or what challenges they face. This helps you look interested and to determine how you can help them.

You can also get help with this from the next item.

Ask people who they have met. As the event goes on, you will meet people who have been there for a while just like you. They have been meeting people all along, and almost certainly not the same people you have. Have they met anyone you should meet but have not? It never hurts to ask; really good networkers will volunteer this without you asking.


(Photo by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash)
 
Talk to speakers. If the event is a forum or conference, where networking time is often built in, make a point of talking to speakers. It can be intimidating, because it's natural to give a speaker a sort of "celebrity" status. Pay attention to their presentation, then be prepared to not only say hello and thank them for it, but have a conversation about some aspect of it. More often than not, they appreciate it and welcome the opportunity to engage.

At an event earlier this year, I spoke with several who gave 15-20 minutes presentations and a longer keynote. Those conversations lasted several minutes, and I connected further with them after the event. That led to an opportunity to become part of their program later on, which I never planned on but am thankful for.

Follow up. After all of this, never forget the most crucial action: follow up. Without it, even a great night of working a room will be all for naught. Many people don't follow up at all, so in doing this you will set yourself apart from many others. Touch base with those you met, and ideally reference something from your conversation.

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About Phil Kasiecki:  Phil Kasiecki is a software engineer and business owner. Currently a Senior Software Engineer at Draeger Medical Systems, he is a veteran of the embedded systems industry with over a decade of experience that includes software requiring knowledge of the lowest levels of hardware and software requiring little hardware knowledge. He is also the President and Director of Basketball Operations for Hoopville Media Services, a basketball media and competitive events company. The common thread in both is networking, something he has become good at from very humble beginnings. Phil lives in the Manchester, NH area with his family. Find him on LinkedIn here.

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Talent Hack was founded by Lindsay Mustain, #asklindsay. I am a recruiter by trade and a humanist by condition. The existential question that drives me is "How can I help you?" Marrying together my expertise in talent acquisition and candidate experience this question becomes "How can I help you find your dream opportunity?"

My vision is to one day help organizations realize the impact of valuing human beings as people and not as pieces of paper. Until that time, I share unapologetic advice and job search strategies that work within the current system. Learn more at: www.talentparadigm.co/services

I help to bridge the gap between job seekers and employers through branding, the candidate experience and journey, along with disruptive talent acquisition strategies. My journey at Amazon led me to becoming their most visible employee by speaking on talent attraction, candidate experience (CandX), and humanizing the talent acquisition process.

I launched Talent Paradigm in 2017 with the goal of leveling the playing field for candidates in the job seeking process. My organization provides coaching, resume writing, branding, and consulting services and products to help improve candidate outcomes.
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