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Networking: How to network offline

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Look for suitable events in your industry or your area of expertise

Making contacts works best when everyone at the event shares the same goal of meeting new people. There are plenty of events where, in addition to meeting new people, you can also take away useful information. You should therefore look into what events there are for people in your industry. A few suggestions include

  • Trade fairs
  • BarCamps
  • Conferences

There are also special events specifically designed to facilitate networking in person. Various groups have sprung up on social networking sites that also offer physical networking events. Keep an eye out for

  • Round tables on specific topics
  • Business breakfasts
  • After work events

Draw up a plan of the kind of events that you want to attend and set time aside for them. It is important that you don’t overcommit yourself but take a targeted approach instead.

Prepare to engage in small talk

Making the first contact is always hard. What are you going to talk about? You should think about the answer to that question before you find yourself at an event. Then you will be fully prepared to meet interesting people. Prepare a few easy questions to break the ice: Do you want to ask the other person about their career or their opinion on a technical question? If there was a presentation, you could simply ask them what they thought of it. What you shouldn’t do is go in completely cold.

Offer your assistance

You should always offer your help if possible. If during the conversation you realize that the other person is facing a challenge that you have already successfully dealt with, you should tell them how you did it. Do you know someone who may be of interest to the person you are talking to? Perfect, you can offer to put them in touch. It is always a good idea to offer support without expecting anything in return. That is the best way to make a lasting impression.

Be aware of your posture

Body language is just as important as anything you say when it comes to making a good impression. Make sure you aware of your posture. For example, you should maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to and remember to smile. Stand up straight, it makes you look more confident. Pay attention to the body language of the other person and don’t be afraid to mimic it. Mirroring the other person is a way to express agreement and friendliness.

Follow up on an initial contact

Have you made a new face-to-face contact? Well done! Make sure you take the next step and follow up on that initial contact. Look for the new contact on social networks like XING or LinkedIn and connect with them there. Send them a message either through their social media page or by email and thank them for the pleasant conversation. Make sure you get them to remember you after the event is over.

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