Regular networking and business events can be intimidating, especially if you’re just starting your career or have experience in professional settings. If you feel nervous, remember that you are putting yourself out there just as others are participating.
Recently, Girls Built had the opportunity to speak with Gabriela Gegen, CEO of Smartrr, a company that focuses on developing strong relationships and brand loyalty through customer portals. Tegen shares some valuable insights on how to effectively network at business events. She emphasized the importance of showing confidence, setting clear goals and objectives, doing thorough research, and most importantly, building genuine and sincere relationships during networking.
1. Discussion topics to engage and avoid
“The most effective conversations start with questions. Take the time to find out your likes, dislikes, and bring a personal touch to the conversation,” he said. The goal is to create a genuine relationship. That said, it never hurts to do some primary research to weave into these discussions. For example, if you know that a company leader you admire is attending an event, research trends in their market, new products they’ve released, recent achievements, and company updates. This will help show a genuine interest in their company and their company. The opportunity to be a member of their team.
Likewise, when networking, it’s always smart to ask thoughtful questions about someone’s professional journey—which often leads to deeper conversations and stronger connections. Conversely, it’s generally a good idea to stay away from politics and controversial topics when talking to others. I recommend proceeding with caution and reading the discussion thread before diving into current affairs.
“Because these topics are touchy and can elicit strong reactions or differing viewpoints, do your best not to start a conversation unless it’s really organic. Lead boldly! You need to remind yourself that you’re worthy of great opportunities to feel good. You’re empowered to participate effectively in any conversation. Along the same lines from networking.” Before events, it’s important to recognize what’s unique about your particular experience or skill set and know how to communicate that in a compelling way,” explains Tege.
It is wise to stay away from political or controversial topics. These kinds of issues can be touchy and can stir up strong emotions, so it’s important to pay attention to the tone of the conversation before getting into them. Unless the topic comes up on its own, it’s often best to avoid bringing them up.
2. Network clothing
“First, don’t be afraid to ask what the dress code is for the event. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to check with the host of the event so they can give you a good idea of what to expect.” “Not to mention, sending a relevant question to the host of the event before the event starts and showing proactive behavior is a great way to get on their radar. Also, be good – feel good! Wear what you feel confident in. Some days it can be late with that new belt you bought over the weekend.” , some days, it can be a dress with heels. It makes you stand out as much as you are confident,” says Teguni.
3. Effective ways to follow up with someone after an event
“Attend a networking event within 24 hours of meeting someone. Send a follow-up thank-you email or LinkedIn message. In this presentation, mention something you discussed or found interesting, such as a trip you’re on, a new role, or a project you’re currently working on,” says Tege. “Keep the tone friendly and professional, and consider including a call to action, such as choosing a follow-up meeting at one of the suggested times or sharing relevant resources.
“Once you’ve connected with someone on LinkedIn, it’s important to show continued interest in their work by engaging with their posts related to the event or relevant industry topics. Liking, commenting or sharing their content will help keep the conversation going and going. Show your active engagement.”
“I also always send a follow-up even if there isn’t something specific that you want or can provide to the person,” Tege explains. “In fact, a thoughtful note with no agenda is a great way to start a relationship. You never know who you might bump into in the future!”
When conducting conversations, it is important to prioritize genuine communication over self-promotion. One effective approach is to listen actively and ask thoughtful questions. By showing concern for others, you demonstrate humility and emotional intelligence, and you’re gaining valuable insights. Additionally, conducting thorough research beforehand will greatly enhance the quality of your communications.
4. Networking in the tech industry
“If you want to be successful in the tech industry, attending industry events is a great way to promote your career. My main tip is to try things that make you comfortable on a surface level,” explains Tege. “Stepping outside of your comfort zone in professional settings often pays off. You never know who you’ll meet or who might connect with you in your next role, and with the current cuts in the tech community, it’s best to arm yourself with others who can advocate on your behalf.”
“Accordingly, it’s great to get more granular into the tech industry to understand your niche. For example, the Shopify community is a very tight-knit group of people. Once you’re on the Godel team, everyone is like that. Once you know your niche in the tech industry, , I recommend joining online communities where industry conversations take place, says Teigen.
“Last but not least, stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the technology space,” says Gegen. “These current events always serve as conversation starters and show off your wealth of knowledge.”
“Make sure you have a healthy supply of business cards and/or resumes for any networking or professional event. Business cards act as a powerful “call to action,” facilitating the next steps in achieving your networking goals,” says Tegen. “They also serve as tangible reminders of your interactions and provide a convenient way to develop more meaningful connections and opportunities. Another underutilized resource is the QR code scanner on LinkedIn. Today, professionals use business cards and LinkedIn interchangeably—so it’s important to know.” How to easily access this QR code scanner to make exchanging LinkedIn profiles as seamless as possible.
Business cards (virtual business cards like Blink also work), as well as professional profiles, are powerful tools for networking and can provide a tangible reminder of your interactions. Knowing how to easily access both business cards and LinkedIn is essential to making meaningful connections.
“Ultimately, warmth, enthusiasm, and confidence—both before and after professional interactions—will help you feel better about doing your homework and will get you farther in your career,” he says.