In an age where everyone is connected through the Internet, it’s nearly impossible to stand out to recruiters without doing something over the top. While finding someone on Linkedin and sending a personalized message is great, it’s important to realize how many other people like you are doing the same thing.
That’s why attending networking events – whether it be professional or social – is so crucial now more than ever. It’s a chance to distinguish yourself from the hundreds of others looking for the same type of position you are by showing off your personality, something that’s hard to do on paper.
It may be scary at first, but showing up is already a huge step. For the rest of it, here are some tips to successfully make lasting connections that could very well lead to your next job:
Be ready to talk – And talk a lot. Make sure you know exactly how to describe what type of work you’re looking for. Be prepared to repeat yourself, too, since you’ll be introducing yourself over and over again. Also, have a handful of thoughtful questions that you can ask other people to prove that you’re interested in them, too.
Bring something to write with and on – Since you will be mingling with a lot of people, it’s a good idea to bring a small notepad to jot down names, contact information, etc. Writing down what you discussed with them will also prove to be useful when sending an e-mail to them because mentioning little details will help them remember who you are (and impress them for having such a good memory!).
Get a business card – While some of you may not have a professional title yet, it’s a good idea to have a stack of business cards handy with your contact info for people who don’t follow step #3. It’s a quick and easy way to get your name out to the right people. Sites like www.vistaprint.com are a good place to start if you’re a fresh graduate lacking business cards.
Smile and stay enthusiastic – Your jaw will undoubtedly get very tired from smiling the entire night, but it’s well worth it if it means making a good and friendly impression.
Don’t talk only business – While it’s definitely the point of most networking events, it’s also key to make people remember that you’re a real person…with real hobbies! Conversational skills are important to display when meeting people you will potentially work with day in and day out. Who knows, you might meet someone with the same interests as you which will put you in their favor. It could even lead to a follow-up meeting that could get you a step closer to your dream job.
Bring a standout factor - Whether it be a strange hobby, a crazy story, or an impressive project you finished, try to find at least one (true) story you can bring up that will make people say “Oh, you’re the one who won the national fly-fishing championship. I remember you!”
Follow up! – People who go to networking events meet anywhere between 3 and 73 people over the course of a few hours – not everyone will have time to e-mail or call the stack of business cards they collected. It’s crucial to send out a personalized e-mail within 72 hours of the event to set the connection in stone and figure out any steps you need to take to be a successful applicant.