Tips for Networking Events
A “networking night” is a different than a “career fair.” The primary objective is not to immediately ask about job, internship or shadowing opportunities in each guest’s respective field. This is an event designed to help you learn about the many different roles and careers there are in that industry, and to find out how and where you can fit in. To help you get the most out of this event, we offer the following information and tips...
Review the Program Guide.
When you arrive, take a few minutes to look through the packet and identify which professionals will be here that you would like to speak to.
Don’t only look at one career path.
Find out what other career paths might be a good fit for the kinds of skills and interests you enjoy.
Introduce yourself to our alums and professional guests before the event starts!
If you’re early, say hello and meet someone you don’t know – get warmed up!
If you don’t immediately recognize the field or specialty you’re looking for, you may want to ask a staff member for help.
Also, keep in mind it’s not always possible to attract guests from every area, but those professionals in attendance may know of a colleague or friend they can refer you to – it pays to network!
Introducing yourself is easy.
Start with your name, year in school, major or intended major, and then mention an interest you might have in common, or something about their field that has you curious. Then LISTEN. The first rule of good conversation is to take an interest in the person you’re talking to! The rest will follow.
Here are some helpful questions to ask your conversation partner when talking:
- How did you get interested in your profession?
- What made you choose your particular specialty area or career path?
- Tell me a little about the day-to-day reality of your job.
- What percentage of the time do you spend on different tasks?
- What do you find most challenging? Rewarding?
- What training or education is required?
- What skills/personal characteristics are necessary for success?
- Where are you planning to go from here? What are your goals?
- What is the demand for professionals in this field? Is it a growing area?
- What do you wish you had known prior to entering your field?
- If you were in my position, what would you do next?
- Are you aware of any internship/shadowing/job opportunities?
- AND THIS IS A BIG ONE: “Who else do you know that I should talk to?”
If other students are gathering nearby, show some conversational SAVVY and invite them to join your conversation!
Confident minglers don’t wait in single file – if you’re waiting, simply attempt to listen to what is being said, and when the moment is right, introduce yourself and join in! You may learn something from other questions being asked, and vice versa. Good etiquette entails not asking more than two or three questions when others are waiting to join in – be polite.
Take full advantage of our alumni and representatives and know when to say “thank you”, ask for the business card of the person you’ve been speaking to, and move on. A 3-5 minute conversation is perfectly all right when you’re moving about and meeting new people. You may wish to stop longer when finding chemistry with someone.
Understand that it may not be possible for you to have a one-on-one conversation with each of your priority guests.
Try to get to as many of them as you can, and then collect business cards so that you can follow-up.
After the event, make notes from your networking conversations and plan to follow up with a thank you email or letter, using the information on their business card.
ALWAYS follow up when you say you’re going to – not doing so can leave a bad impression.
Can’t locate a particular guest?
The professionals who have been invited to this program are quite busy, and sometimes have last-minute obligations that prevent them from coming. If you have difficulty finding a guest, feel free to stop and ask a member of the Career Center staff if the guest is present or absent.
What if there’s no one here that you have an interest in?
This is an opportunity for you to meet local professionals in a field that may interest you. However, any one guest might have a variety of experiences or perspectives to share. If you are unfamiliar with a particular field or specialty, just ask! You never know what you might learn by approaching someone!