Job seekers are often presented with opportunities to network with professionals in careers they are considering. These valuable occasions provide excellent, informal opportunities to learn more about the profession and the culture of prospective employers. They can be found through organized school events, open houses sponsored by businesses, and community events. Networking is truly about meeting people, sharing your story, and gaining valuable contacts and information that can impact your career now and in the future. To ensure your time is well spent, do a little prep work before you head to each networking event.
Before the Event
Have a Goal
Why are you attending this event? Are you hoping to meet fellow student or young professionals with whom you can connect? Or possibly an employer for a job or internship?
While a suit or dress is often not required, you do want to make a good first impression. Business casual is a good rule of thumb for most networking events. Try to avoid wearing dirty work boots or something too casual, like a t-shirt.
Bring Business Cards
Yes, students and job candidates can have business cards too! Make sure to include your name and current contact information.
During the Event
Introduce yourself by making eye strong contact, smiling, stating your first and last name, and giving a firm but brief handshake. At many networking events, attendees will be wearing a nametag – this will help with the name game!
While you are anxious to share your story, don’t forget to listen to what others have to say! To help drive the conversation, try some of the questions below:
How do you like working for your company?
What’s your current position? Can you tell me about your career path to get to that position?
How did you get involved in the industry?
Don’t Hesitate to Take Notes
When you’re attending a busy networking event, it can be hard to keep track of everything you’ve talked about! After you’ve met a few folks, try finding a quiet corner to jot down details of each conversion you’ve had. Use the back of their business card to keep it all straight.
After the Event
A few days after the event, send a follow-up email to anyone you’d like to continue networking with. Make sure to send personalized emails or hand-written letters, and if possible, mention details of something you spoke about.
Good luck, and have fun!