Every year thousands of young professionals move to New York City to find the next big role in their career. It’s can be an exciting or stressful time (or both), but one thing always holds true – there is an abundance of opportunities in this city.
Finding that perfect role is a huge challenge however, particularly when trying to balance great experience in the right industry, while keeping a roof over your head and food on the table. Professional networking is a great way to build your Rolodex and find opportunities that will never be posted on Indeed.
Having been through this very process, and attended my fair share of events, here are some tips to become a networking pro.
1. Always remember the big f-u
This is the first piece of advice I was given at my first networking event in New York; networking is all about the big F-U… follow-up!
Your aim is to build relationships in the business community and the most effective way to do that is to take the conversation online once the event is over. A simple email or LinkedIn message the next day can be super effective and gives your contacts a subtle reminder of your conversation.
2. HAve business cards
You’re going to get into a lot of conversations with a lot of interesting people, and when the time comes to move on you’re going to want to leave them with more than a smile. A well-designed, concise business card will leave a lasting impression when you do your follow-up a day or two later.
Bonus tip: Go through all the business cards you get the next day and add them as contacts on LinkedIn. This is a great way to put names to a face – and makes it easier to reintroduce yourself at the next event.
3. Go alone
It may seem more appealing to go to events with friends but if your goal is to meet new people and expand your network it can be more beneficial to go in at the deep end and go by yourself. Going alone forces you to strike up conversations that might otherwise never happen.
This advice is somewhat optional but most people are inclined to gravitate to their comfort zone if given the opportunity – so take away that option!
4. Get there early
Going to events alone can be nervy at first – striking up purposeful conversations with strangers is a skill that develops over time. To make it easier, arrive early and introduce yourself to people who are just arriving too. Before you know it the room will fill up with plenty of potential new connections. This is much less intimidating than walking into a room full of strangers that are already in flowing conversation!
5. Perfect Your Pitch
Be prepared with your elevator pitch. The key questions you will get asked are; ‘Who are you, what are you looking for and what makes you different? Assuming you’re networking with a purpose you’re going to want to have a compelling answer.
This is part of your personal brand which you should develop both online and off to aid you in your career quest. Identify your unique value proposition and selling point, and stick with it.
6. Play the long game
Networking is all about mindset. When talking to others don’t focus on what they can do for you but rather try to think of ways that you can help them. With networking you have to give a little to get a little – and giving should always come first.
If you’ve moved to New York from Ireland (or planning to!) check out the Irish business groups for some great networking opportunities. Beyond that there are plenty of other events happening every night of the week in the city.
Ronan is a New York based B2B Digital Marketing Strategist specializing in SaaS and ICT. Having lived in Sheffield and Chicago, as well as New York, Ronan has extensive experience working (and networking) abroad. Connect with him on LinkedIn.