When it comes to breaking into the job market, there is no way around networking. It can boost you to the next level professionally and maybe even find the job you’ve been dreaming of. But how do you create a long-lasting impression on someone?
Evaluate your current state.
What is your dream job? Why did you choose to come to the networking event? What skills do you have that set you apart from your peers? Once you start asking yourself these questions, write them down on paper. Although networking events aren’t like formal interviews and you most likely won’t be asked these questions, it doesn’t hurt to have some incentives in your head and know how to market yourself incase you do meet the right contacts. Some people like to prepare an elevator pitch before they attend networking events, which can be helpful as long as you aren’t being too stiff and formal when delivering it to people. It also doesn’t hurt to bring your sheet of answers along with you that day so you can glance it over before you enter the event.
Make sure everything’s up to date.
Before the big day, make sure you have your online presence and resumes up-to-date. Yes, this means reviewing your LinkedIn for the nth time. If you have a website, double check and make sure the link still works. Now for social media.. if you haven’t fixed your privacy settings now is the time. There would be nothing worse than making a great connection and having them search you to find your embarrassing college pictures. Once you’ve checked your resume, print a couple copies off to bring with you just incase.
Do your research.
Once you’ve done the research on yourself, do your research on the people attending the event. For example, if there a particular speakers or panelists you will be listening to, check out their LinkedIn before the big day. Where did they start their career? What do they do in the current job? Chances are, you will find someone with similar interests as you that you can make some common ground on. This is going to help you ask more intelligent questions that will set you apart from everyone else.
Ask the good questions.
I am huge on making lists because I like to look them over incase my nerves get to me. Making a list of questions to ask panelists or speakers before you arrive is one of the best things you can do to prepare. It will also help you get to know your field even better and make relationships. From a quick Google search you can find questions that will impress the speakers and make yourself more memorable. They are also good to ask if you find yourself sitting at the same table with a connection. Here are a few examples:
- What skills have you found essential in this field/occupation?
- Would you recommend taking internships post-graduation?
- What are some of your go-to resources for getting guidance in your field of work?
- What advice would you give someone starting off in this field?
A few small tips.
One of of the best impressions you can make on someone is remembering their name. I know it’s hard to be confident at these things, especially when there are important connections to be made! However, making good eye contact, smiling, and being polite is very important. I know all of those things seem straightforward, but sometimes you don’t even realize you aren’t doing them. If you do get any contacts that day, make sure to send a follow-up thank you via email, letter, or LinkedIn.
Networking events can be nerve-wracking, but just getting out there and practicing is the best thing you can do. Besides that, these things can be fun! If you see anything we’ve missed here or disagree with anything, feel free to leave us a comment. Good luck!