Would potential employers spare me time for a brief introduction or even a handshake?
This would probably be a normal thought of any fresh graduate anxious of attending any job networking event. It’s the lack of professional experience that makes them rethink whether to go or not. But hey, there’s no reason not to go! Keep in mind that there’s a lot to gain from attending such events.
From someone who’s been there and done that, here are a few tips to carry you through your job networking experience:
There’s nothing that a good preparation cannot solve. Practicing introductions can be a good start. After all, you’re going to meet and reach out to your potential employers.
You have to be able to convey who you are, what you can do, and what areas of the industry you want to explore. Think of an elevator pitch for yourself, so during the networking event itself, you will have ready spiel for introduction while branding yourself at the same time.
Arm yourself with enough knowledge about the industry you want to get into. Study industry trends. Know the top companies in that industry, their respective vision and core values, and assess each company’s strengths and weaknesses. Potential employers would appreciate that you are passionate about the industry and the company’s goals rather than just landing a job.
Don’t be too intimidated to talk! Smile and say hello or give out a compliment to break the ice. Strike a conversation, and get engaged in it. Company representatives in a networking event would talk about the company and what they do. Listen to them and show interest by asking follow-up questions.
Have clear career goals
Once you’re in a conversation, you and the company representative would probably talk about your career goals. Be clear about your short- and long-term career goals. By letting the company representative know your skills and the position you are looking for, he or she can give you insights and pieces of advice on breaking into the industry, getting referred to the right company among others.
Share ideas for possible contribution
While you may get excited about meeting your potential employer, don’t forget that networking should not just work for you, but for them as well. While being informed about the company and the industry is appreciated, showing them how you can contribute to their company is more impressive.
Be brave enough to share insights of your own. If you feel you can offer alternate solutions to their company’s weak spots, speak up. Company representatives and potential employers want strong applicants who can be instrumental to their organization’s growth. Add value to your image by showing that the company will benefit itself for hiring you.
Reconnect and follow up
Just because the networking event may be over doesn’t mean you’ll leave your chances to luck. If you have their business cards, you can send them a thank you note for the good and insightful conversation you had. You can also use this opportunity for them to remember you, and add in that you are open to talking again in the near future.