Networking Event words on a wall calendar to remind you of the day or date for a business meeting, celebration, conference or seminar. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
We live in a busy world, and college students are no exception. Today’s young adults have hectic schedules and are often times running between classes, work, extracurricular activities and social time with friends. It may seem tough to fit one more thing into this schedule, however, it is important to make time for networking as well. Networking will help you to gain experience now and will be beneficial in the long run for your career. As a student, intern or recent graduate, it can be intimidating to stand in a room full of unfamiliar faces that have more professional experience than you do. Here are a few quick tips to help you own the room and stand out like a pro at your next networking event.
Remember to Make Eye Contact:
Looking someone straight in the eye is extremely important for connecting during the networking process. While this may seem intimidating at first, making eye contact is crucial for conveying confidence and appearing friendly. This tip is a must for everyone and should be kept in mind at all times when networking.
This tip sounds self-explanatory, however, the more prepared you are, the better you will feel. Spend some time doing research prior to the event to determine the audience that will be attending, and make sure to dress professionally. In addition to this, it is helpful to bring resumes and business cards with you in the event that one of your new contacts asks for more information. Depending on where you are in your professional career, the business card design and information will vary. When crafting your resume remember to include the basics such as contact information, links to your social media and personal website as well as relevant skills, work experience, achievements and awards and summary that includes your career goals.
Have an Introduction:
Chances are, one of the first questions someone will ask is “Tell me about yourself.” or “What do you do?” This is the time to give an elevator pitch. Don’t make it too lengthy, just be prepared to share a sentence or two regarding your current position and any career goals. When exchanging introductions, make sure to ask the other person what they do as well to engage in a two-way conversation.
Don’t be afraid to talk! Just because you are a student or intern doesn’t mean you need to be shy. Speaking up and contributing relevant insight to a conversation demonstrates industry knowledge. As a best practice, stay up to date with news from blogs and online publications to be knowledgeable in a variety of conversations.
Don’t Forget the Follow Up:
This is the most important part of attending a networking event, right? Why attend an event if there is no follow up or outcome from it? If you are a student, remember to follow up and thank any contacts for their time. Depending on where you are in your academic career, consider asking one of the individuals to set up an informational meeting. This is more casual than an interview, but still provides the opportunity to meet with an industry professional face to face. If you are an intern or recent graduate looking for work experience, tactfully follow up and thank the person you met for his or her time. If there were any career opportunities discussed at the event remember to mention this in the follow up as well.
Networking is exciting and fun, there is no need to feel intimidated by it! By following these tips you will own the room at your networking event and look forward to attending another one.
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