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'Oh hi, Mrs Big Shot': How to network like a pro for future career gains

Use these tips at your next industry event and you'll be making your way up the next step on the corporate ladder

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Whether it's a seminar, a cocktail party or a formal dinner, industry events can be a real pain to attend – but they also provide a buffet of useful professional contacts. It might be tricky to get the best out of a potentially stressful situation, so here are five tips to help you leave a lasting impression.

Make the First Move

This is one situation where you shouldn't be a wallflower. Corporate events are all about making contacts, so don't stand in the corner waiting for people to approach you – get moving and talk to others. Start with a warm “hello” and an introduction to your company or job scope. If you're not brave enough for one-on-one interactions, join a circle of people with a couple of familiar faces and slowly ease your way into the conversation.

Get Some Practice

It's easy to falter when you're in a stressful situation, so get in some practice. Pick a few conversation starters that you can use to engage your new contacts so that you won't have to struggle to think of what to say on the spot. Having an elevator pitch at your fingertips will also make you comes across as confident and professional.

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Do Your Research

There's a high chance you would know the names of some of the people attending the work event, so why not find out more about them beforehand? We're not encouraging you to stalk them on social media; just a scroll through their LinkedIn profiles or company websites will give you some information on their background or interests. It'll be easier for you to pick up a conversation this way, especially if you discover that you have something in common.

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Keep Your Chin Up

We won't lie, it can sometimes get awkward trying to make small talk in a professional situation – odds are you might end up babbling or embarrassing yourself, especially if there’s alcohol involved. If the other person isn't responsive, find a way to excuse yourself from the conversation without being abrupt or rude. There'll be plenty of other people for you to talk to, so don't take it personally if you meet an unfriendly face.

Don't Be Too Forward

You might be angling for a plum role in that CEO's company, but don't go up to him and ask him for an interview on the spot. In fact, don't ask anyone for anything at a networking event. You'll only end up looking desperate if you start requesting favours from someone who was a complete stranger to you a mere minute ago.

44 Work 13 Lifestyle

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