1. Set a goal - Will you collect five business cards? Learn three new things? Chat to a specific person? Focus your mind before you enter the room and it will help keep you motivated.
2. Arrive early - You’ll avoid having to break into established groups if you’re one of the first people in the room.
3. Come prepared - Skim the news headlines, brush up on the topic of the event (if there is one) and be ready to talk about yourself and your work experience.
4. Start conversations - People at networking events are generally there because they want to other meet people. As soon as you walk into the room, before your confidence flags, introduce yourself to someone else.
5. Avoid the huddle - If you’ve attended the event with someone you already know or make a good connection immediately, try not to close yourself off for the rest of the event. Huddling up feels more comfortable but can border on anti-social.
6. Be organized - Bring business cards and keep them handy and neat. Have a pen handy. No one wants to wait while you dig out a bent card from the bottom of your purse or backpack.
7. Play the host - Make introductions whenever possible (and always with thoughtful details à la Bridget Jones) to help other people feel comfortable. If you see someone hovering at the edge of your conversation, give them an easy in. They’ll be grateful and you’ll make one more new contact.
8. Listen and learn - Networking events are excellent times to learn more about your industry. Ask questions and be engaged.
9. Be polite - Always look someone in the eye when they talk to you and avoid looking around to find the next conversation. Tilt your head and ask thoughtful questions. Likewise, if you’ve been talking to one person for some time, give them an out by excusing yourself to get another coffee.
10. Follow up - Send a quick email the next day to the contacts you’ve made, along with a follow up item to keep the conversation moving (your resume, if appropriate, or the website you mentioned, an article on the subject you discussed, etc.)
Now get out there, work that room and land that job!