Networking events are amazing opportunities to create relationships, find new opportunities, and get yourself out there! As a regular networker and recruiter, I can tell you that those who really excel at networking stand out right away because they do certain things that catch my attention.

Here are five tips to help you make a lasting impression:

1. Proactively introduce yourself.

Don’t wait for others to come to you! I know, networking can be intimidating, but these people are all here to meet professionals just like you, and being confident enough to approach them sets the stage for a great conversation. My top tip: keep tabs on your energy level and make sure you’re conveying your enthusiasm. There’s nothing more disengaging than if your networking partner sounds bored with you.

I also recommend practicing your handshake before you go to the event to make sure it’s firm. Others perceive your handshake as a reflection of your confidence and your enthusiasm – don’t let it get in the way of creating relationships!

2. Do your research and acknowledge others’ work.

Networking isn’t all about you. Building a relationship is a two-way street, and an awesome way to make a meaningful connection is to do your research beforehand, learn about some of the professionals that are coming, and acknowledge their achievements when you talk to them. Complimenting others on the work that they do is a key strategy for making sure that they remember you.

3. Be curious. 

When you’re genuinely curious about another person, they take notice. They start feeling more engaged in the conversation and leave with the impression that you were interested in what they had to say. When you follow up with them later, they’ll remember you. Key message: ask probing questions to have a meaningful dialogue. Some great ones that I’ve heard are:

  • How did your career path lead you to your current position?
  • What are some of the challenges you face in your industry/role?
  • What advice would you give to someone hoping to achieve what you have?

4. Connect with your networking partner on a personal level.

A great way to do this while still keeping the conversation appropriate for a networking event is to hone in on similarities the two of you share and emphasize them throughout the conversation. This will help build common ground. Do you two live in the same area? Are you working in the same industry? Are you facing similar challenges? Have you both made career transitions? Whatever it is, people like people who are similar to them, and going out of your way to find common ground is an amazing way to build a meaningful relationship.

5. Be authentic.

The best way to be engaging is to be your authentic self. When I think of authenticity, I think of people who are comfortable with who they are. This means that they’re confident enough to know that they don’t have to dominate the conversation to make a lasting impression. Remember: the more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable other people will feel in your presence.

Do you have any questions about networking? What’s a rule that you always follow at a networking event? Let me know in the comments section!