Follow these tips for networking events to build connections that can lead to a referral
Prepare for it beforehand! Read up on interesting things you want to discuss that relate to the firm(s). This includes relevant news articles in sources such as the economist or Wall Street Journal, Company publications and any major news events focusing on research/work that the firms have done (avoid focusing on negative ones)
Prepare an introduction sentence - 'Hi, I am xx and I am very excited to be here because of yy and zz'
Have some clear objectives for the evening. These could be - (i) Understanding how the firm approaches recruitment and why it matters (ii) Meeting 3 or 4 people from the firm with whom you can have at least 10 mins of interesting conversation (iii) Meeting other candidates for you to keep in touch with and practice cases with!
Make an actionable list of questions you want answered and try and get as many answered throughout the event
Be enthusiastic and be present! This is important , do not look bored or like you would rather be somewhere else
Listen attentively and engage in the event - listening is often more helpful than talking when it comes to building relationships
Send a customized thank you note to all the people you connected with. Make sure to reference the conversation you had so they have something to remember you by. If and when they reply you can then ask for referrals or some sort of recommendation for interviews. This works best if you can make it personal to them.
Be on your phone - big no no
Be shy/reserved - it is important you talk and put yourself out there