You’ve probably heard a million times how important networking is to landing a job or internship. (We hate to tell you, but they are right.) Networking events are fantastic ways to meet professionals with valuable experience or connections that can help you in your career. Downside? They can be chaotic — and let’s be real — awkward 😳.
Not feeling up for it yet? Here’s a checklist of things to do the week before a networking event so you can walk in prepped and ready to go:
✔️ Find the guest list online
A lot of events will share a list of everyone attending, or at least the companies that will be represented. Look it over and see if there is anyone you would be interested in speaking to. You will feel much more ✨confident✨ if you go in with a plan, so pick 2–3 key people or companies to keep on your radar.
✔️ Reach out to anyone you want to talk to
Of those 2–3 people you picked out, is there anyone (or all three) that you’re dying to speak to? Send them an email letting them know who you are and what you want to talk to them specifically about. You can say something like:
Dear [their name],
My name is [your name] and I saw you on the guest list for [event name]. I’m reaching out because I would love to meet you and talk about [what you want to talk about them with.] If you’re open to it, what’s the best way to contact you to coordinate?
See you at [the event],
✔️ Have an elevator pitch ready
You’re going to hear “So tell me about yourself” a lot at the event. To avoid getting tongue tied, have your elevator pitch ready so you can succinctly share who you are, what you do, and what your goals are. (Not sure where to start? Check out our video on crafting your elevator pitch.)
✔️ Have resumes or business cards on hand
If you connect with someone, it’s nice to have something to give them at the end of your conversation. Print out a few resumes or order business cards (with your contact info on them) so you can stay in touch. If you don’t have business cards yet, no sweat! Just ask for their business cards or keep a list of names so you can reach out on LinkedIn later.
✔️ Dress to impress
Look sharp and professional. Who you are and what you have to say is obviously the most important thing, but the way you present yourself matters. Want to keep it safe? Just put on neutral-colored pants (black, blue, tan—no jeans 🚫👖) and a solid-colored top.
✔️ Get out of your head
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone new but you’re distracted analyzing the last thing you said or you’re wondering if your body language is right? Don’t overthink the situation or get self-conscious — it’s not worth it. The trick is to just stay present, listen intently and say what feels true to you.
The more practice you get, the easier it becomes. No promises that there won’t be an awkward moment but hey, at least you’re more than prepared for them now.