Not everyone is great at networking. In fact, for some, networking events are completely outside of their comfort zone. Like everything else however, knowing what to do and how to do it can reduce your uncertainty and give you the plunge you need to get started.
Attending BA conferences and networking events can be a great way for business analysts to make connections, source clients and stay up to date on the latest trends in the business analysis domain. However, at large events, it can be easy to become overwhelmed or make a weak impression on peers, potential clients and partners. Here are some basic tips on networking to help you make a positive and memorable impression.
1. Don't take your CV with you
While it can be tempting to bring a CV filled with your achievements to a conference, this can actually be incredibly off-putting for potential clients as it implies you are looking for a one-sided connection based solely on them hiring you. While tenacity and confidence are great characteristics of a business analyst, coming off as being forward, will create a negative first impression. A good old business card will work however, if you have one.
2. Build relationships, not contacts
View networking events and conferences as an opportunity to build relationships and not as a platform to merely sell yourself and increase your list of contacts. Casually sharing your thoughts, like your opinion on the challenges facing the BA profession, can help you find mutual ground with new connections, which is much more memorable and effective than simply exchanging business cards.
3. Try to find a connection
If possible, prior to the event, research the companies or individuals who will be attending and try to find a connection with them. Referrals are incredibly valuable in business and a simple connection, such as working with the same human resource company, can help a potential client feel more inclined to work with you. Try to disclose the connection in the first conversation you have with the company representative/individual to trigger conversation.
4. Follow up, but don't overdo it
In the days following the event, it is important to follow up and try to build on any new connections you have made without coming across as being too pushy. For example, following a person on LinkedIn and sending them an email should be enough of an invitation for them to get back in contact with you. Calling their office line repeatedly and sending multiple emails may come across as too aggressive and should be avoided.
Now get out there and start networking!