by Melissa

How to Avoid Awkwardness at Networking Events

This post is a part of our Hustle Summit Prep Series to help you make the most of Hustle Summit, the most epic networking event you’ll ever attend, taking place on Friday, January 29th, 2016 at Irving Plaza. We’ll connect you digitally and in-person to the coolest companies, greatest pros across industries, and your future life-long friends. Companies we work with include HBO, BuzzFeed, Time Inc., Do Something, L’Oréal, and more. Learn more

The thought of networking can be scary for students and professionals alike. Regardless of identifying as an introvert or extrovert, attending a networking event and making meaningful connections can be difficult. With these tips, you will be prepared to ace your next event!

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Practice Makes Perfect

If you feel anxious at the thought of interacting with strangers, practice your speaking skills beforehand. Create an introduction and elevator pitch for yourself and practice reciting it in front of a mirror. Being able to see your body language and facial expressions as you speak is a great way to become aware the impression you have on others. Bonus points if you can practice your introduction and elevator pitch with a friend!

Do Your Homework

A great way to avoid networking event anxiety is to research the event prior to its start. Few things are more awkward than showing up to an event and having no clue who anyone is! Do your homework beforehand and visit the websites and social media channels of companies or industry insiders that will present at the event. The key is to engage with those with similar interests as you.

Not only will this allow you to learn more about the event and its guests, but it also gives you the necessary sources to make a deeper connection with various guests and attendees.

Break the Ice

Becoming a wallflower at networking events can be too easy sometimes. If you ever find yourself in this position, consider it time to break the ice with fellow attendees! Remember, you are at this event to network and build meaning connections. Engage with a fellow attendee about your favorite speakers or sessions. Approach a guest speaker about his or her speech and how insightful it was. Another great idea is to speak with the event staff about planning the current event or preparations for upcoming events. Breaking the ice takes a certain amount of confidence, but once you have made a few connections, it will be worth it!

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Follow Up

Now that you have surpassed the awkwardness of networking and have succeeded in establishing connections, it is crucial that you follow up with these connections! Following up is the other half of networking that should not be forgotten. Connect with those that you have met on social media or through email if a particularly profound connection was made. Remember, if you are not following up, you are not networking!

Feeling awkward at networking events happens to the best of us. It can be easy to shelter yourself and hug a spot along the wall, but by doing this you are missing out on making vital connections. Challenge yourself to follow these tips and master the art of networking at your next event!

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