6 ways to prepare for a networking event when you’re a bit rusty

It really pays to go to major networking events — they can help you stay relevant and meet new people. But it can be difficult to get all your ducks in a row if it’s been a while. Here are six things to keep in mind.

It really pays to go to major networking events — they can help you stay relevant and meet new people. But it can be difficult to get all your ducks in a row if it’s been a while. Here are six things to keep in mind.

Make three key updates: your resume, website and LinkedIn profile

We get it, we get it: You probably don’t use these everyday … which is exactly why you should spend a good amount of time updating them before your event.

It can be tough to update and fit your resume on one page, add to your website and round out your LinkedIn profile with all your new accomplishments, so give yourself all the time you need.

Wrangle together your business cards

You could argue that no one uses these anymore, but hey, it’s up to you!

If your job provides business cards, you’re going to want to pass a few out to the valuable new connections you make (or you could find them on LinkedIn on the spot).

But if your business cards are gathering dust in your desk drawer, you should dust them off or get new ones.

Pick your event wardrobe wisely

You know how you want to feel at the networking event, so if you often wear the same business clothes to gatherings like this, buy a few new pieces or accessories that will give you a fresh dose of confidence. Also be sure to get all your dry cleaning done before your departure date.

When you like what you’re wearing, it definitely shows.

Take a look at the event overview

The agenda and/or event website will tell you everything you need to know — including which panels you know you won’t want to miss.

Plus, checking this out in advance can be useful for figuring out just how early you need to get to each session. You can also start writing down any burning questions you have for the featured guests.

Reach out to panelists beforehand

This has worked for me before.

So take a look at the featured speakers, and consider sending them a professional message via email or social media. Talk about how you’re looking forward to hearing them speak. If they reply, you might just be able to use this to strike up a conversation with them after their panel.

Sometimes, reaching out beforehand can help you get your foot in the door early.

Make your travel arrangements

If you have to hop on a plane or a train to get to the event, you’ll want to book your round-trip tickets as early as you can.

We all know that the longer you wait, the higher the price will be, and no one needs that — especially when there are other convention fees to pay for. So get to it, and see if your organization provides any travel discount codes for you to use.

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.