With the end of COVID restrictions, in-person networking events have come back. Combined with the ongoing popularity of virtual conferences, these opportunities to expand your web of contacts represent an excellent way to accelerate your career. The key is understanding how to prepare and take advantage of the chance to upgrade your industry profile.

After all, networking represents a crucial skill for any job seeker. Some data suggest that over 85% of positions are filled through personal or professional contacts. As a result, your ability to build a broad web of contacts can unlock your full career potential.

Networking events offer a great chance to do this. However, these conferences can pass quickly — you only have a couple of days, or even a few hours, to get the most out of the opportunity. Maximize your chances to succeed through strategic thinking and diligent preparation.

With that in mind, here are some steps to take to best prepare for an upcoming networking event:

How to Best Prepare for a Networking Event

Set Goals Before You Go

You want the networking event to be a success. But what does that mean? Before you go, you must define what you hope to get out of it.

Set specific objectives for the networking events. Do you want to gather names and expand your network? Is your goal to strengthen your bonds with existing contacts? Are you hoping to land a new job at the end?

Defining these priorities will help you organize your approach. If there are competing demands for your time, knowing your broader goals will help you make tactical decisions. At the same time, you’ll have a benchmark to use to judge your performance once the event is over.

Learn About the Event

Imagine a general plan for an attack. Their first step involves understanding the battleground. Victory requires learning about the topography, identifying potential obstacles, and finding areas where their army can gain a strategic advantage.

Use this same model as you head into your networking opportunity. Research as much as possible about the event. This way, you’ll be able to get the most out of your limited time.

Find Out Who Plans to Be There

Understanding the structure of the event represents the first step in your reconnaissance. However, don’t stop there. Take a deep dive into the people planning to attend the event as well.

Start with the high-profile names, like anyone scheduled to make a presentation or appear on panels. From there, check in with people in your professional network. Discover if anyone you know will be attending the event as well.

Start Networking Before the Event

Don’t wait until the official start to begin the networking process. Once you discover some of the names that will be attending, try to make contact ahead of time. If you can, you can break the ice in the lead-up, making for a more efficient and effective conversation at the event.

This should be part of the process of checking in with people in your existing network. If you find out someone you know will be there, make plans to touch base. This will help strengthen ties with your current contacts.

Follow Up Afterwards

The networking opportunity doesn’t end when the event comes to a close. In fact, this is just the beginning. Your success will be largely defined by how well you follow up.

Develop a strategy for carrying on a conversation with your new contacts. Reach out to anyone you met and set the stage for a longer-term relationship. At the same time, cement bonds with any previous contacts that you bumped into at the event. This will help you nurture stronger bonds over time.

Looking for More Help Finding the Right Job for You?

Networking offers a great chance to accelerate your career. You can also gain professional momentum through a top recruiter, like Hiregy. You’ll get the guidance and support you need to find the ideal job.

Contact Hiregy today to discover the perfect position for your skills and background.