As an IT professional networking events have many benefits, from providing you with greater access to industry knowledge to connecting you to a broad range of often unadvertised job opportunities and leads. Whilst the importance of networking is commonly agreed, the biggest challenge faced by most people is how to actually get the most out of networking. To help, we’ve written this guide on top networking tips for IT professionals which provides our top tips on how to break the ice at networking events.
Set yourself networking goals to find the events which are going to best address your goals. Perhaps find a new job, or simply learn more about your industry. Once you’ve found an event, try to find out who is attending through online streams to make networking on the day easier. Who are the speakers? Can you find out about other attendees via the tweets or mentions on social media? Having information available about people prior to meeting them makes small talk a lot easier, but if you haven’t been able to find them then this next section is a great guide to breaking the ice with people you don’t know but wish to network with.
- Hi my name is …;, who are you and where do you work?
You can rarely go wrong with a friendly smile, handshake and asking a simple question.
- What do you do for a living?
Though it can feel natural to keep talking about yourself and your latest projects, make sure that each side has a chance to contribute to the discussion.
- Your conversation appears to be very engaging do you mind if I join in?
This is a great way to enter an existing conversation and it’s highly unlikely people will say no as you’ve started with a compliment.
- Why did you choose to come to this event?
Everyone has their reasons, this question is open ended so will often lead to other discussion points.
- What motivated you to come to this event/who are you looking forward to hearing from?
This can give you an insight into why a person attended the event and what they’re trying to achieve. You can potentially even collaborate and help them accomplish these goals later.
- What do you do outside of work?
Often people don’t like to just talk about work so try to warm up the conversation by asking what they enjoy doing, their interests, and hobbies.
- What key points have you taken from the speakers so far?
Since you’re at the same event you can even ask them what they think of it so far, and if they enjoyed what the speaker had to say or how it was delivered. When it comes to your opinion try to stay positive as negativity more often than not doesn’t leave a great impression.
- What is your opinion on ….?
Everyone loves to be asked their opinion!
- I really enjoy following your work and/or recent projects such as ….
If you’re talking to a speaker or someone well-known, complimenting them on a specific piece of their work is a great place to start.
- What drew you to your line of work?
Taking an interest in a person’s job can open another conversation. Do you like the organisation? Is the Manager good to work for? You can learn more about who is well-renowned or respected in your industry.
A Few Last Tips
On the day of the networking event, showing up early or attending the post event drinks can give you the chance to talk to people in a quieter environment where there is less competition for attention.
Also remember that a conversation is a two-way-street; sometimes for a person to open up, you have to open up to them as well. Be prepared to offer something in return, and show your personality by telling people about your background, hobbies, and interests. By doing this you can build a strong rapport that is genuine and honest.
After the event, don’t let all your networking go to waste. It’s good practice to send the people you met a LinkedIn connection request or follow them on other networks like Twitter. If you now have a taste for networking, don’t stop there. Continue engaging through social media and by the time you meet them at the next event the relationship will have moved on from a cold intro.
Too Busy to Network?
Although it is time consuming, networking is great for your career and can help you form valuable relationships long-term. If you’re feeling stuck at the next event you attend, use a few of our top networking tips to get the most out of it and help your personality to shine through.
If you need any assistance with your job search, or if you’re unsure of how to promote yourself at networking events, we’ve got you covered. Feel free to get in touch today.