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Networking is a foreign concept to most students. BUT, it's a crucial way of establishing networks that could lead to your future job.
I guess the key question for most is...
How can I nail networking when I feel uncomfortable and out of my element?
1: Introduce yourself and then ask two basic questions
- Where do you work?
- What do you do?
Treat networking exactly the same way as making a new friend. On the first day of class, you will usually ask a new classmate where they study and what they study.
Apply the same concept to Industry Professionals.
2: Stop selling yourself and learn to listen
A turn off during networking is anyone who is too caught up on promoting themselves. Networking is about listening to other people and being genuinely curious about the other person.
3: Find out what value you can bring, and what value they can bring to you
This is what you're trying to find out during the 'listening' portion of networking.
Find out what value you can bring, and be generous by offering your help. This is the true way to develop networks.
- As a student you may not feel that you have value to bring to industry professionals. A better way to look at it is, what company culture do they have? Can I add value to that?
4: Try to always mention their name
This creates familiarity and helps you to learn their name faster.
- Forgot their name? Look at their name tag.
5: Think about your body language
Remember to have OPEN BODY LANGUAGE such as open arms rather than folded.
- A good way to show interest is to tilt your head whilst listening to the other person.
6: The drink tactic
If someone doesn’t have a drink, go to the bar and grab them one. It helps you to easily place yourself into the conversation, and will give you a GC image.
- Be careful, don’t drink too much and don’t eat too much.
7: Be aware of your environment
Standing near the leaving area of the bar means you’ll always have an influx of people that you could potentially talk to. Plus bonus points on easy access to refreshments and snacks.
- Best place to stand: leaving area of the bar
- Worst place to stand: doorways and exits
8: Do some research on the industry representatives before the event
To help ease the nerves, doing some quick research on the industry reps will give you an idea of what you could ask / find out from them. Figure out your key questions, and it'll make your life sooo much easier.
- If they were a speaker, bring up a point that they made during their presentation. Nothing makes an impression more than showing you're an attentive audience member.
9: Leave the conversation gracefully
Be aware about how much time you have and whether there are people waiting to talk to the other person. You don't want to be a hogger.
Always thank people for their time.
10: Follow up and ask them how they would like to be connected
Send them a LinkedIn or Facebook connection request the next day.