5 Tips for Successful Networking for Young Professionals in Washington:
1) Prioritize Small Events – There is nothing wrong with big events, but if you have multiple event opportunities, choose the smaller event. The more intimate setting will allow you to connect longer and in a more meaningful way, even if it is with less people. Remember, the quality of your network is more important than the quantity.
2) Meet Someone New – It is easy to fall in with the same crowd, especially with so many familiar faces at many of the events we attend. Make it a point to meet someone new at each event. You’ll expand your network and yourself by stepping outside of your natural comfort zone and established social circle.
3) Be Pleasant – You want people to enjoy talking with you! Be sure to smile, and be friendly and cheerful. During most first meetings, you are selling yourself as a person as much as you are selling yourself professionally.
4) Have a Card – If you are not yet in the work force, or are in between jobs, you should still have a card. Most office supply stores can print professional looking cards with your name, email, and phone number for about $10. If you have a job, always make sure you have a supply of business cards on you.
5) Follow-Up and Stay in Touch – A 10 minute conversation over a glass of wine at a reception will help you get your foot in the door, but a hand-written note, or at least an email, the next day will help you seal the deal with someone you just met. And stay in touch. If you talk about grabbing lunch or coffee, set a date. Be intentional with your relationships and you will turn your rolodex from a collection of people who you have chatted with for 10 minutes into a professional network that willhelp you advance your career and your principles.
Wesley Goodman is the Director of Conservative Coalitions and State Outreach at the U.S. House Republican Study Committee (RSC)
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