As Idaho starts to slowly reopen businesses, we expect many companies to start recruiting again. With the unemployment rate continuing to move up, it’s important to find ways to stand out from the crowd, and one of the best ways to do that is to network with people who make hiring decisions.
Not sure where to start? Try connecting with a local networking group! Larger cities are sure to have multiple that you could join, and even smaller rural communities often have their own meetups.
We know that in-person networking events may still not take place for a while, but here are several tips to keep in mind to help make your networking less awkward and more successful once it becomes safe to attend events again in-person.

#1: Do your research BEFORE attending the event.

Make sure you know who’s on the attendee list and try to find a connection to a couple of individuals, so you have an ice-breaker or conversation starter when you see them in Networking, Social Media, and the Six Degrees of Separation person. The more you research the less awkward you will be.

#2: Keep it professional.

Many networking events will have light food and drinks available. While it’s certainly fine to have a snack or a drink, don’t take too much! One drink should last you the entire event and you don’t want to be remembered as the person who took all of the good cheese and crackers.

#3: Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone.

In general, when attending a networking event, you will find most others are participating for the same reason. People are open to talk and meet new people that may be a resource for them in the future. Be the person that is willing to start a conversation with a stranger.

#4: Follow up with those you meet.

Networking doesn’t stop after the event is done. You put a significant amount of work in with prior research and stepping out of your comfort zone so make sure you capitalize on those relationships you make and don’t forget to follow up with your new contact!

#5: Go into a networking event to build genuine relationships.

Remember: when attending a networking event, our goal is not always to sell our product or service but to rather build a relationship that can foster trust and commonality. We do this so hopefully one day that trust may turn into a partnership in business. Be in it for the long game and not just a short-term gain.

#6: Enjoy yourself!

While networking is a valuable tool professionally, it’s important to remember to not approach it as “work” and to instead loosen up a bit. People want to do business with or recruit other people that are pleasant and engaging. If you look like you’re getting ready for a root canal, that’s going to be a major bummer for the other people there. Smile and have a good time! Don’t forget your business cards and a smile, and you’ll be an expert networker in no time at all!