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You’re on the right track if you finally listen to all of the career advice regarding the importance of networking. Getting to know other people and forming professional relationships can help you advance your career through job leads, advice, shared industry experiences and more. However, if you don’t make a good first impression when you meet potential contacts, your networking efforts may not be successful. Use these tips to determine when to speak up while networking:

Pick the Right Moment

When you’re eager to introduce yourself to someone or participate in a group conversation, it’s important to never interrupt. This comes across as overly aggressive and unprofessional, and may make potential contacts hesitant to interact with you. Instead, be on the lookout for transitions in conversations, such as when there’s a lull, the conversation is wrapping up, or switching topics.

Prepare a Soft Pitch

Have an idea of what you want to say before you introduce yourself to someone while networking. You don’t want their first impression of you to be stumbling over your words or being long-winded. Come up with a two to three sentence description of yourself professionally so you can describe yourself in a succinct manner.

Show Interest

Likeable people who are the most enjoyable to speak with are the ones who seem to truly care about what the other person is saying – as opposed to just waiting for their turn to talk. When you’re having your first conversation while networking, don’t just talk about yourself. Show interest in the other person by asking questions and actively listening.

Exit Gracefully

When you’re talking with someone who is in-demand, don’t monopolize their time. Introduce yourself, ask your most important questions, then exit gracefully. Express your appreciation for them taking the time to chat with you, say you would like to keep in touch, and exchange contact information.

Follow Up

Networking is not a one-time activity. Once you’ve met contacts, it’s important to nurture those relationships if you want your networking efforts to be effective. Within 24 to 48 hours after you meet a new contact, connect on LinkedIn with a personalized message or send a quick email. Express how it was great to meet them, touch on what you talked about and extend an invitation to keep in touch.

Networking is a valuable tool in finding job leads and progressing your career. Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions can also play a role in your overall job search strategy. Since 1969, we have been matching candidates to temporary, temp-to-hire and direct hire positions in the Hudson Valley area throughout a range of industries. Register online to start working with Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions.