One of our favourite pieces of advice here at FutureRising is simply to attend industry events. Rooms are full of people who might hire you.
Networking may not be the most satisfying experience all the time. But once you get into it, it becomes much easier. You begin to realise that even the most senior people in the room aren't just happy to talk to you, they actively want to chat. They want to meet young talent because they've got vacancies to fill (if not now, they're sure to soon). They want to hear your ideas, they want to know what you know.
Stepping up to a stranger can be kind of scary but once you're past that part, it all comes pretty naturally and you'll forget why you were nervous in the first place. To ease you through that first bit, just remember:
So remember, industry people are always looking to talk to you and all it takes is for you put yourself in the right place at the right time.
To give you even more confidence when networking, we’ve put together some extra tips.
Making your approach
Remembering that people want to talk to you should make it easier to just approach an individual or a group and say "Hi, how's it going?". Generally that's all you have to do.
You can't always wait until someone has finished their conversation before approaching. Most the time it won't finish for a while and when it does it's because people have walked off to go talk to others. You need to be ruthless but polite, just jump in, apologise if you interrupted anything and start chatting away.
Once you're talking to someone, you'll want to ask questions otherwise the conversation will just fizzle out. Questions will also make you look super interested. Keep a list of generic questions in mind:
- Where do you work?
- What's it like there?
- What's it like working in such big agency?
- Oh I've heard your offices are really nice, what do you think?
- Where's your office based?
- What's your role there?
- What kind of work do you do?
- Do you know [name]? I think she works in the creative department there.
- Did you work on [recent piece of work from that agency]?
One of these is bound to lead of into something else and create something more natural. Just remember follow up questions. For example if you ask them what they do and they say they're in planning. Don't just leave it there and move on to asking about a piece of work from their agency. Instead ask another question about planning, or what the planning department is like in their agency, or how they got their planning job.
Some people prefer to network in pairs. It tends to makes conversations easier with less awkward pauses and also gives you someone to talk to while you're trying to muster the courage to go up to someone. Other people dislike this because having someone else there that you know puts less pressure on you to talk to new people as you're more comfortable just chatting to them all night. Try it both ways and see which works best for you.
If the event has a dress code, be sure to follow it. Otherwise wear something that you're comfortable in. Any clothes that make you feel awkward aren't going to help the process. Try not to look too scruffy either.
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