“What?! Donald Trump is President?”
That is not something you should say at a networking event. Before the event, catch up on what is happening in the world, nationally, locally, and in your industry. You should read up on global events and understand how they may affect your industry.
“Consider it your homework for building a more engaging personality and as a critical element in establishing your relevancy,” writes Heather Dugan on Salary.com.
Preparing for events, conferences, and meetings doesn’t just mean coming with a stack of freshly printed business cards. If you know certain people who are attending or speaking at an event who you know you’ll be interested in meeting, then you should do research on them ahead of time. When you do your homework, you can skip the small talk and get right into the meaningful conversation you are looking for in the first place.
“Time is the most valuable resource people can offer you, so respect it,” says Burke. “Do your homework on the person’s title, their background, their email address, their preferred mode of contact, and their career history. That way, your conversation via email, phone, or in-person can focus on the advice you need to help with, the subject matter you’d like to learn more about, or the organization you want to learn more about.”
In addition to coming prepared with questions for other people, prepare to answer the questions they’ll ask you. Practice your own pitch, as well as answering questions about your career goals.