My freshman year of college, I had a roommate who participated in an internship program in Washington, D.C. At the end of the internship, the students in the program attended a networking event with alumni in the city. She told me that she and the other interns competed to collect business cards — the “winner” was the one who ended the night with the most.
Hopefully, this isn’t the way you’re networking. Of course, it’s important to close a conversation by getting a prospect’s contact information, but treating networking with a “gotta catch ’em all” attitude is a mistake.
Networking isn’t about franticly gathering business cards and phone numbers as fast as you can, and then hitting up your new “contacts” for favors. It’s about establishing mutually beneficial relationships, and to do so you have to do more than speed through a conversation.
Being strategic about the people you meet is more important than attempting to strike up a rapport with anybody who comes across your path. But don’t limit yourself to only those people more senior than you — meeting professionals at every level and across industries is critical to truly diversify your network.
If you’d like to hone your mingling skills, check out the infographic below from Business Insider for 11 handy tips on how to network like a pro.
What are your best networking tips? Let us know in the comments below.