IDEAL TIPS FOR CURRENT & ASPIRING PROFESSIONALS
5) Do your research.
This solely depends on the circumstances surounding the event. For an event that includes several companies such as a career fair or an event with only one company like a speaker series, you want to be familiar and well-versed with the company and its opportunities. I recommend preparing questions ahead of time so you appear prepared and engaged. Keep in mind that you should research basic things (i.e. products, what they do, year-end results, etc.), but also look into industry specific things the organization is doing that interests you and impacts your career goals. For an event at a company in which you already work, you probably don't need to do any research. Instead, be able to speak to what you do from a high-level perspective as well as your department's prior quarterly performance. Also be able to speak to the most recent product changes/current company-wide projects that impact your work.
4) Be curious, casual, yet professional.
It can be stressful, especially as an introvert, to even consider attending a networking event. I remember dreading networking events all throughout undergrad. I always wondered what in the world I would talk about with someone I don't know. Even more nerve wrecking, how can I get this person who knows nothing about me to like me enough to hire me for an internship, a job, or provide me with a recommendation. First, slow your row. None of that matters. Second, just be curious and get to know whomever you're speaking with on a casual level. Ask things like:
Be curious and ask questions that allow you to not only gain insight of the organization's opportunities and culture, but also allow you to get to the know the person you're speaking with .
3) Listen & connect.
This sounds simple, but when you're nervous, it's very hard to listen. That's why it's important to maintain a natural curious energy. Meaning, you're inquiring information from the other person that warrants them to elaborate on their thoughts and experiences. From what they share, you can determine what you have in common. Remember, networking is not about what you can receive. It's about building connections. If you're receiving bad energy and there's no effort from the other party, let the person know it was nice meeting them and move on to a more fulfilling conversation with someone else.
Don't forget to network with your peers!! These are some of the most connections you can develop . Life is ever-changing. You never know when you'll cross paths with a former classmate or colleague. This can also help you pass time while you wait to speak with someone who may have a long line of people also waiting to speak with them.
2) Keep track & request to stay connected.
This is an area I struggle with, but it's often times most important. I always have trouble keeping track of everyone I speak with, so don't make my mistakes. When you leave a networking event, you want to know who you met. This means you'll want to remember a name, who they work for or what they do. If that means you need to ask for business cards from everyone you speak with, do it. If they don't have a business card, write their information down. We live in a world of technology. If it's someone you want to keep in-touch with, ask if you can add them on LinkedIn. Be proactive about keeping in touch or at least following-up with a thank you email to people who made a positive impression on you. Maybe you're looking for mentorship, which means you have to initiate and maintain the relationship. Therefore, don't ask for mentorship, simply exhibit the qualities in order to build a mentee/mentor bond. Following-up and keeping in touch is essential.
1) Be yourself to exude confidence.
You're going to feel your most confident when you are yourself. When you truly understand that you're an introvert, but it's not a limitation, that's when you'll shine the brightest. When you put an end to self-doubt, you'll perform at your best. When you love yourself and know you've got this, you'll be blessed. Stay true to you. That's where you confidence lies. It's not hard to be yourself. So when you're preparing your 90 second pitch about yourself, do it authentically. That's the key to networking.
HOW'D IT GO?
Please let me know if these tips helped ease your mind as you prepared for your next networking endeavor. Thank you for reading the first blog post for my new Professional Development Series. Hope you will stay tuned as they'll be more blog posts and videos to come!
As always, beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo