But many of us would rather spend a sunny Saturday cleaning the attic than go to a professional event and network. A search on Google for the words “network” and “hate” pulls up more than 59 million hits in .31 seconds. Yikes!
Here’s how to make a networking event less stressful, more valuable, and more fun.
1. Take advantage of technology, beforehand
Many professional events with electronic registration also show a list of the names and companies of those who’ve signed up to attend. Check for familiar names. Or for people you might have heard about and wanted to meet. Or to learn the affiliations of those planning to come.
2. Get your bearings
Before you go, you should also know, at the least, who’s hosting the event and why. Those details will give you significant insight into the size of the gathering, the formality of it, and the structure (such as whether there’s a meal, a program, extra time to mingle before the event actually starts—and so on).
Surprises make many people a bit jumpy. If you do some legwork ahead of time, it lets you know what to expect.
3. Set a modest goal before you get there