Networking is not easy. You have a few minutes to make an impression that could introduce you to many opportunities, whether that be for a co-op job or a professional mentor. I have attended a number of networking sessions in my time at Laurier, and here are my takeaways on what you should be doing at networking events and what you should avoid:
DO: Follow Up
This may seem vague – something a lot of people wonder with networking is how long you should wait to follow up after meeting a recruiter, or how often you should be reaching out. Various articles written by HR professionals have said that you should email no longer than two days after meeting a recruiter because you want to stay fresh in their minds. Recruiters (especially campus recruiters) are constantly meeting many new people who can fill positions they are hiring for; don’t let them forget who you are! After you’ve gotten a reply from a recruiter, try to touch base with them on a biweekly to monthly basis. Here, you can talk about what’s new with you and ask them any questions about different positions that are available in their organization.
DON'T: Come off too strong
There are two main reasons why you should avoid being too intense at a networking event. The first being that it’s unfair to everyone around you. If someone is at a networking event, they are looking to talk to recruiters too. Don’t monopolize someone’s time and engage others in your conversation. The second reason, and probably the most important one, is that recruiters don’t like it. A recruiter from RBC once told me that when she meets people, she doesn't really look at whether they can do their job - that's for the interview. She looks at whether they can work in teams, how well they can socialize, and their overall soft skills. Someone who comes off as confident while being able to chat casually with the recruiter and others will look a lot better than someone who simply boasts about his or her accomplishments.
DON'T: Make everything about the job search
A networking conversation should have a very nice flow to it. This means that not every question, email or phone call should be about you needing to find a co-op placement for the summer or a full-time job post-grad. Ask them why they chose to work for the company. Ask about the people culture, the pros, the cons, and how they’ve found their experience so far. Show that you’re not just someone looking for employment, you’re someone looking for a home.
Even after you’ve established contact with someone, you should email them regularly with your updates and ask them questions about projects they are currently working on, what’s going on at the office, and other general questions. Don’t always ask them to critique your resume or tell you about openings that are currently available. The rule of thumb is to connect with the people you meet – these people can then connect you to the job you want.
If you don’t end up working for a company, keep in touch with the connections you made there. When a company reached out to me offering me a position after I had already solidified my upcoming co-op placement, I was able to introduce my contact to a friend of mine that was a good candidate for the position. Not only can your connections help your friends, they are always a handy contact to have the next time you’re looking for a job.
DO: Have resources to back you up
It’s a no-brainer that when a recruiter emails you asking for a resume, you immediately attach that file and send it to them. However, there are so many ways that you can show off what’s on your resume while you’re speaking to a recruiter at an event. With applications like Dropbox and Evernote, it is so simple to create a folder filled with your resume and other projects that you can show off. This is particularly useful when you’re at an event with a lot of recruiters but it’s not necessarily a recruiting event. You don’t want to bring your laptop and a folder to a casual “wine and cheese event” but you still want to be remembered.
Having a well-designed business card is a helpful snapshot of who you are as a candidate. This will give recruiters a nice point of reference when they go home from the networking session and set you apart from the other faces in the crowd. Every semester, PRISM hosts a Business Card Workshop where you are taught how to effectively design a business card and take some home. Follow our Facebook page for updates!