Networking events and professional mixers are an extremely valuable tool for young professionals to get face time with people ahead of them in their career paths. If you are new to the scene, it can be easy to feel like you don't belong or are underprepared. Here is a list to make sure you look and feel like a pro.
1. Business attire
When you look good, you feel good. It is important to dress the part when looking to make professional connections. Looking sharp can help you look more credible, established, and polished. An easy formula for professional attire is a blazer + slacks + button up/blouse + flat shoes. If you want to look really polished, make sure to wear long socks and match your belt to your shoes.
2. Business cards
This is an easy way to step up your networking game. For around $15 you can have a couple hundred business cards made. Make sure you have your name, phone number, LinkedIn URL, and email (I recommend you make a separate personal email that is just your name that you only use for business. This makes sure that people can still contact you even when your school email expires). This gives you an easy way to prompt an exchange of business cards and helps people remember you.
Pro-Tip: always choose a matte finish on your business cards for networking events because it is common practice for people to take notes on how to remember you on your business card.
3. Pen and paper
Just like people are going to be taking notes on you, you should be taking notes on people. Bring a couple pens and jot down a couple of notes on every person you meet and your conversation with them in your notebook or on their business card, this way, When you add these people on LinkedIn or reach out to them in another way, you can add a note about your interaction with them. This helps them remember you and adds a personal note to your interaction.
4. A couple copies of your resume
While most people will be satisfied to look at your LinkedIn Profile, there are still people out there that prefer the old school hard copies. Invest in a nice black folder and bring a few copies of your resume just in case someone asks. It is better to be over prepared than underprepared.
5. Whatever spare toiletries you may need
It is important to make a good impression, so you want to be prepared for anything. Bring some deodorant, some mints, spare lipstick, blotting sheets etc. These are all things that will keep you feeling fresh and your best.
6. A strong handshake and a smile
At the end of the day, networking all starts with a good impression. Be pleasant and smile when you meet people like you would with meeting anyone. Practice a good strong handshake and you will be great!
Pro-tip: aim to make contact with the webbing between the index finger and thumb with the same place on your hand for a solid handshake.