In a previous post, we discussed the benefits employers gain by hosting well-planned networking events. With the right execution, a great networking event can attract talented potential applicants and create a far-reaching impact on word-of-mouth branding efforts.

But networking events aren’t just beneficial to employers. They also allow industry professionals and job seekers to witness the company culture in action and find a place for themselves in the wide network that includes this organization and extends across the entire industry.

If you’re looking for work, or just looking for a way to join professional conversations and stay on top of news and events affecting your field, keep these tips in mind the next time a work-related social activity, conference, meet-and-greet, or industry event appears on your calendar.

1. Remember: every event is a networking event.

Keep in mind that the list of “events” described above is by no means comprehensive. Any social gathering can be a professional networking event, and anyone you meet might be able to connect you to others in your field or teach you something new that might support your career. This includes parties, weekend road trips, and cocktail hour with friends, acquaintances, or total strangers.

2. Keep an open mind.

Stay curious. If the person sitting next to you at the event is a restaurant busboy, don’t assume you have nothing learn from him. And by all means, don’t tune him out or start speaking without pausing to listen. Every new person you meet has something to teach you something new about the world, even about your own industry and your own career prospects.

3. Ask questions and remember the answers.

Great conversations happen when we keep the focus on the other person, not on ourselves. Ask questions and show interest in what others have to say, but don’t stop there. Remember the information you receive and be ready to apply this information to other conversations and other contexts.

4. Don’t be shy.

While you engage with the person next to you, don’t hide away and take refuge in this conversation for the duration of the event. Recognize when it’s time to politely break away and seek out the company of the people in the room who are best poised to help you advance your career. Don’t miss an opportunity to connect with these people or allow them to slip out the door.

5. Follow up.

If you meet a valuable connection, a person you like, or a person with information and resources that can help you, don’t leave without finding a way to connect with this person later. If you’d like to arrange a meeting, schedule a phone call, connect on social media, or attend a future event with this person, simply ask them. Then follow up and actually do it.

For more moves that can help you turn every social encounter into a boost for your career, contact the staffing professionals at Expert.

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