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Posted June 28, 2016 by

Dispelling 4 networking myths

Have you ever read an article and wondered, halfway through, whether the tips and suggestions were genuine or intended to be funny and snarky? You don’t want this to happen when you’re trying to learn about networking, whether you’re trying to build your connections in the workplace, learning about professional networking events and how to feel more at ease while eating/drinking with coworkers, or understanding the ins and outs of networking in order to aid your job search.

Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, dispels four networking myths (jokes, really) laid out in a networking tips article by The Onion in this short video and offers entry-level candidates genuine networking tips instead.


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1. First impressions kind of do last forever… but you don’t need to use hand sanitizer after shaking someone’s hand.

Ignore The Onion’s advice on this one!

No better way to convince someone you’re going to be picky or odd to work with than to break out the hand sanitizer immediately after meeting them. If you have concerns about germs or cleanliness, try to hold your concerns in until you can get to a restroom, and then scrub your hands to your heart’s desire.

First impressions do matter, and they do last. This is true because of both the primacy effect and negativity bias. What you see, hear, and recognize first when you meet someone is what sticks with you. If those things you see, hear, and recognize are negative, that’s what sticks, unfortunately. Do your part to ensure that what people see, hear, and notice about you is positive. Dress professionally and look your best when attending networking events, job interviews, and other places when you might encounter employers or potential employers. Smile! Keep the topic of conversation light and polite. Be prepared to introduce yourself (prepare an elevator pitch).

Professional networking should occur during working hours/daytime; you should NOT confront employers at home at night as The Onion jokingly suggests. This is a surefire way to get yourself arrested.

2. Be respectful of employers’ personal lives and private space.

Even when texting or sending private messages/inboxing recruiters, try to limit one-on-one interaction to working hours or at least daytime hours. Keep in mind that when employers, recruiters, and hiring managers aren’t at work, they probably don’t want to interact with candidates. I know, it’s a blow to your ego to hear that. But it’s true.

3. You should ALWAYS ask people to tell their career stories.

The article by The Onion gests that people will share with you unhelpful, outdated ways to get jobs when you ask this question. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead, you’ll hear really interesting stories when you ask this question full of excellent job seeking and networking tips. If you’re listening carefully to someone who’s working in the career field you’re interested in, you might gain insights into how to start a business in your field, how to avoid common pitfalls in your industry, key names of important people you’ll need to connect with, and more.

Did you catch that?—if you’re LISTENING CAREFULLY you’ll gain lots of insight. If you zone out and think about whether you can make it to the cheese tray before the mozzarella cubes are gone (cheese does matter, but not more than finding a great job), you’ll miss all of it, and you will have wasted your night, aside from eating some snacks.

4. There’s no such thing as “selfish networking.” Period.

The article by The Onion states, “No matter how insincere you are, try the best you can to hide the fact that you’re only talking to someone because you want to use them.” Although the article is sarcastic, this is actually true.

People don’t want to be used because of their connections or titles or impressive possessions. People want to be appreciated for who they are.

Networking is about building and maintaining relationships. It is about give and take. Networking, for the job seeker, is about utilizing those relationships you’ve ALREADY built and maintained to help aid you in your job search.

The time to begin networking is not when you begin searching for jobs. It’s when you begin college or while you’re in high school. You build relationships with people throughout life. If you never stop building and maintaining relationships, networking is a natural part of life. When you need assistance with something—like searching for a job—you have nothing to worry about. You simply ask, and because you’ve been sharing and helping and giving to your connections for years, they’re more than happy to give back to you.

For more networking tips, continue reading our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Posted January 26, 2016 by

How to make the most of professional networking events

If you’re like one third to one half of the U.S. population who consider themselves introverted, discussing professional networking events—whether career fairs, meet and greet hours held at conferences, or even happy hour with coworkers or potential employers—induces slightly sweaty palms. Networking events are often referred to as “shmoozy events” because of the negative connotations associated with networking.

Done the right way, professional networking doesn’t have to be socially awkward; you don’t have to push yourself on others or worry about saying exactly the right thing at just the right time in order to land a job or get a raise. It is important to remember, though, that first impressions are made within the first seven seconds of meeting someone. That’s a powerful statistic and one that sticks; the primacy effect (the tendency to remember what we notice first, whether it proves accurate or not) has lasting impact on our brains.

This brief video provides college students and recent grads with simple, easy tips to implement at networking events. These tips are especially helpful if you’re a networking newbie, about to graduate and begin networking as part of your efforts to find your first full-time job.


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1. Eat prior to arrival.

While light to heavy hors d’oeuvres are often served at most networking events, it’s never a good idea to arrive on an empty stomach. Be sure that the snack you choose isn’t heavy on onions or garlic-laden, though; you don’t want to carry offensive odors to your networking event.

Arriving without an empty stomach will help you feel calm and mentally alert. You will be more able to focus on potential employers, build connections, and enjoy yourself if you’re not hungry.

2. Dress conservatively.

Dress codes are all over the place for networking events. Play it safe and stay conservative, wearing business attire. You can’t really go wrong with a well-fitting business suit. If you want to dress it up, wear a brighter shirt or tie than you might normally wear, but don’t go crazy. Networking events aren’t the time to pull out your new sequined dress or to dress down either, thinking it’s more about socializing. Remember, you’re ultimately there to build professional connections; these connections might assist you in your job or internship search now or later.

3. Smile!

Smiling is the easiest way to let people know you’re approachable. If you’re introverted, intimidated, or simply not excited about the event, smiling is a great “fake it til you make it” strategy for making the most of networking events. You’re already there, so why not have a good time?

4. Go hands-free.

Keep one hand free at all times. If you must eat a quick snack, put down your drink in order to eat. Best case scenario, though, you will watch this video and read this article before you begin attending networking events, and you can adhere to tip #1 (eat prior to arrival). When you eat prior to arrival, you’ll find yourself able to more easily shake hands, exchange business cards, and carry a bottle of water because not carrying a plate of food.

Businesspeople shaking hands at networking event

Minerva Studio/Shutterstock.com

5. Prepare an elevator pitch.

At professional networking events, you’re most likely going to introduce yourself and be asked the question, “So what do you do?” repeatedly. An elevator pitch answers this question and then some. Your elevator pitch—if pitched properly, that is—communicates who you are (in terms of education and work history), what you do (related to jobs and careers), what you want to do, and why. It’s important that potential future employers understand that you have specific goals—that’s an admirable quality, one most employers seek in candidates.

Your elevator pitch should last no longer than 30 seconds (stay focused) and should end with a question. That question shouldn’t be, “How can you help me?” Even though we’re all seeking help from others in the job search process, the question should be focused on your new contact. Is your contact the CEO of a company? Ask him how he began his career in the business world. Ending with a question lets the other person know that you are not self-centered; networking is a two-way street, and getting to know your connections is vital to successful networking.

If your new contacts or potential employers want to get to know you further after you give your spiel, they’ll follow up with questions. On the front end, keep it short and sweet.

6. Talk less; listen more.

As the saying goes, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. As Dale Carnegie said in How to Win Friends and Influence People, “Talk to someone about themselves, and they’ll listen for hours.” General managers consistently rank listening as one of the top skills in the workplace, too. It matters, and people value you when you do it well.

7. Give and receive contact information.

Prepare business cards before beginning your job search or internship search. You can purchase very affordable business cards online from a variety of vendors or use a business card template available for free online. You definitely don’t want to arrive at networking events empty-handed, though.

When someone asks for your business card, it’s proper etiquette to ask for theirs as well (and vice versa). Don’t make it your goal, though, to procure as many business cards at networking events as possible. There’s no point in this behavior. Unless you actually established an initial connection with a real person at a networking event, a business card is just a piece of paper.

If possible, wear pants or a skirt with pockets or carry a small purse. You need a place to keep the business cards you gather. You might think of the whole “exchanging business cards” process as old-fashioned, but it’s still being done, and if you don’t bring cards to networking events, you’re the one who’ll be left out.

8. Call them by name.

When introduced to someone new at a professional networking event, call that person by name throughout the event. Not only will this help you remember the person’s name later, but it will also make that person feel recognized and provide a personal touch (give that person warm fuzzies), and there’s nothing wrong with that.

9. Follow up.

You don’t need to come home after networking events and immediately search for your new contacts on LinkedIn or Twitter, sending invitations like a stalker. Connecting on social media is part of networking, but following up has many layers. It’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy. Think carefully about each of your brand new contacts and how you might best connect with them individually before sending a mass email to 20 potential employers with your resume, references, and electronic portfolio attached.

Remember, networking—whether online or offline—is about building connections which hopefully last for a lifetime. These relationships are just like the other relationships you invest in; relationships require work, and relationships are about give and take. Those same principles apply to professional networking.

For more Tuesday Tips, follow College Recruiter’s blog and follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Stick with College Recruiter as we help you connect the dots on your path to career success and introduce you to great jobs, internships, and careers. Begin your search and apply today!