Be Your Best at a Networking Event
One of the best places to network and search for jobs is at a job fair. Almost every industry puts on career networking events, wherein people from different companies and organizations gather to mingle and offer advice to people seeking out jobs within that industry. In most cases, these companies aren’t so much looking to hire people right away, but rather to socialize with potential candidates and offer them direct tips on how to pursue and apply for specific positions at different companies. It is important to keep in mind certain networking techniques that will allow you to best convey your potential. Meeting and talking with as many people as possible is as important as making the best impression possible. Here are a few tips on how to navigate a job fair:
- Be Confident: For every person you meet, be upbeat, enthusiastic, and pleasant. Make sure to have a firm handshake, make direct eye contact, and SMILE. Focus on being interested, not interesting; focus on the other person and what you can learn from them. They are the expert within your field. Focus on them and their expertise, not your own.
- Have Something to Say: Avoid one word answers. Use small talk to get a conversation going: “What brings you to this event?” or “What do you do for the company you work for?” are always good starters. If you are ever asked to describe yourself, have your 30-second pitch (elevator pitch) ready to go. You want to adequately describe yourself without being long or boring about it. Be direct in your conversation. Make sure to have follow up questions. It is important to be engaged and show interest in the person and the company they work for. The more questions you ask, the more engaging you will be. After the fair has ended and that person has met with dozens of candidates seeking jobs, you want to make sure they will remember you specifically.
- Set Goals for Yourself: Before you enter the job fair, try to have a goal in mind for how many people you are going to connect with. Do research on the fair beforehand, and have a mental outline of what companies you are interested in, what type of position you are after, and which specific people you want to talk with. Wandering around a job fair aimlessly is not a totally bad thing, but you will maximize your potential job/networking opportunities if you do your research beforehand and have a few general goals in mind for what you want to accomplish while you are there. Be proactive throughout the entire process.
- Following Up: The most important aspect of a job fair is following up with the people you’ve met after it’s ended. Bring along a stack of business cards and exchange them with as many people as you can. Ask them for their business cards. Write notes on the back of each one, including when/where you met this particular individual. Send a thank you email the next day thanking them for talking with you and sharing their wisdom. You are more likely to score an interview or be thought of for a job opening if you remember to follow up. Each person you met with will remember you better for having done so. A job fair is absolutely a numbers game, but it’s essential that you treat everyone with as much respect and admiration as possible. That’s how you land the job you want!