By Mia Casey
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: networking prep is ESSENTIAL. Each time you chat with someone new, you’re increasing your chances of discovering new opportunities and building your professional network which, in today’s world, is hugely important when trying to kick-start your career.
So, in the lead up for our super exciting Careers Fair, here are your four commandments for successful networking!
(PLUS: Make sure you read until the end for an awesome competition we’ve got going on…)
1. Thou shalt know thy stuff
The biggest and most important thing you need to do before any networking event, coffee chat, or interview is research. If you haven’t done your research, the employer you’re chatting with will know and they’re likely not going to be impressed. Plus, doing your research not only means that you’ll sound really enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but also can help with any nerves going in because you’ll already have an idea of what you’re going to say!
So what should you be researching, when you’re looking at chatting with a company?
Having an understanding of their company values is a great touchstone around which you can start conversation, or relate your anecdotes to. And, it can help you decide whether it’s really a place that you’ll want to work.
Another great way to find out what the company is about, is to search for recent news articles about the company. This gives you good ammo for conversation, and shows that you’re keeping up to date with what they’re doing.
What they’re known for:
Some companies are huge and work across a number of industries. If you know what industry you want to work in, find out what the company is doing within that industry, and make note of any projects, updates, or innovations they’re involved in that you’re particularly excited about. That way, when you’re chatting with an employer from that business, you can mention your ideal industry and tell them how cool you think they’re company is – people love a compliment!
2. Thou art required to prep a pitch
Being able to chat about yourself in an interesting, succinct way is so essential when you’re meeting someone new. To avoid getting caught off-guard, it’s time to prep that elevator pitch and have it spick and span for your next networking opportunity!
An elevator pitch is a minute or less summary of who you are: the work you’re interested in, what you’re studying, your experience, and your career goals. As we’ve noted in the past: ‘This might sound a little intense for what is essentially a first introduction, but the trick is to keep things conversational and natural. Practice beforehand so that when you do give your elevator pitch, you can focus on being engaging rather than on what you’re going to say.’ (x)
We’ve written a pretty comprehensive guide for mastering the perfect pitch, so give it a read before your next big networking event!
3. Thou shalt not interrupt
Active listening is a skill that you should definitely cultivate. When you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’re probably going to want to make a good first impression – and what better way is there to make a great first impression than to come across as engaged, interested, and excited about what the other person is saying?
Active listening means that you don’t interrupt the other person, you listen to what they’re saying and ask questions to show you’re interested, and avoid letting your eyes wander or your posture appear bored or closed off. Obviously, you’ll still be talking about yourself and holding a conversation, but just taking that extra little bit of care in showing that you’re listening and interested can go a long way.
4. Thou shalt appear professional
Make sure that when you know you’re going to be meeting with a potential future employer or leading member of your industry, you’re not wearing a pair of trackies and the Elmo t-shirt you slept in the night before. Networking events are the perfect opportunity to show your professionalism and enthusiasm for your industry, and that includes clothing.
Try to wear something professional, clean, and ironed. It doesn’t have to be a three-piece suit or glistening high heels, but making that little bit of extra effort to look put together and serious about your meeting them, can help you leave a good impression.
Finally, thou shalt win prizes if thou does thy research
The Careers Fair is coming up on February 28, and guys: we have an awesome comp going. Before the Fair, do your research on the organisations you’d like to work for, fill out this form, make sure to chat with them on the day (using the tips outlined above), and you could WIN an opportunity with an employer! HOW COOL IS THAT? From a coffee date to an office tour, and heaps more, this is a great way to get your foot in the door with your dream company. So make sure you do your research and get ready to work that networking vibe!
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash