Each year there are a selection of career expos, fairs and networking opportunities to take advantage of. Below are some quick tips to use during and after a networking event that could boost your return.
Before and during the event:
- Plan of attack – If you’re heading to an expo or fair, check their website prior to the event and know which employers you want to visit, putting them on your ‘Must-See’ list. Going one step further, take a look at the employers’ websites to understand what key developments or milestones each employer is working on or achieved and take note. These can be great conversation starters and also help make a lasting impression. Try, “Congrats on recently winning employer of the year. How has XYZ celebrated this achievement?”
- Create some goals – Whenever you head into any event or even a small-scale meeting of industry people, it is advisable to have a few goals. There is no point heading into an event if you don’t a) see any value in it or b) not have the faintest idea of what you would like to accomplish or get out of these events. Time is money and who likes wasting either? A couple of goals could include: increasing your network base, gaining some information on a new industry trend, forging a partnership with a potential client or distributing some valuable information (be careful that you don’t ‘spam’ information. Again, know your target and ensure you tailor your pitch to them). The key thing to remember when setting goals is quality vs quantity. If your number one goal is to hand out your 1000 box of business cards…you’ve missed the point of ‘valuable networking’.
- Dress to impress – Again, you will be meeting potential clients and even employers. Dress to suit the culture and employer.
- Take Notes – One thing that we find is undervalued during a networking event, especially huge expos, is taking notes. We don’t mean a play by-play of every single thing you saw. However, did you see an employer you would like to get to know more of? What caught your attention? Jot down a quick reminder, take a picture, record a voice memo, anything to capture the highlights. Use this as an opportunity to revisit after the event and connect with key people via LinkedIn.
- Come with your tool box – Again, you’ll be meeting with clients, peers, potential partners, employers etc. Have your business cards, resume, sample products and elevator speech all ready in hand. If you bring a resume, ensure it’s a condensed version. Some industry professionals even consider a ‘career teaser’ to give to employers which is a one page summary of your resume/CV or even hand out USB or CD with their resume and short intro package. Whatever it is, ensure it is succinct and to the point! Know what your key selling points are and have your pitch down pat. To really prepare yourself, practice an introduction with a friend. You have but mere minutes to make an impression at some of these events, ensure you can make an impact in under 60 seconds.
- Market yourself – Have you been handed a name tag to fill out? If so, make the most of this little marketing tool. Of course write your name, however, think about adding a headliner e.g. Sally Jones – Media & PR Specialist. This tells potential contacts what you do and can also draw people to you.
- Recap – After you’ve attended an event, take a moment to recap on the highlights. Did you take notes? Review them. Review your goals – did you achieve them? If not, what can you do post event to capitalise on this networking opportunity.
- LinkedIn – Use it! You’ve met some key people, you probably even have a stack of cards. Sort through the key people you wish to make contact with and find them on LinkedIn. This is a great platform to ‘re-connect’, add them to your network and send a personal greeting or thank you note. Something like this can go a long way in forging lasting relationships, “To…., it was great to meet with you at the …. event. Thanks for your time. It was interesting to discuss…….. and was great to get your insight on the matter. I would love to connect with you as I feel I could provide some solutions in the future to what we were discussing. All the best! Sincerely, …..”
- Check out the employers’ websites – Did you meet potential employers? Check out their websites and see what jobs are on offer. As above, source the representative you may have met and connect with them on LinkedIn and thank them. Little steps for big gains!
- Keep in contact – Now that you have made some new connections, keep in contact and offer some value. We don’t mean spam them with inspirational memes! Set yourself a reminder to have a monthly touch point with one of your contacts and see how things are going. Keep it short and brief.
- Attend more events – When time permits, attend the events that suit your needs. Again, quality vs quantity. Be picky and prioritise your events. However, the more you expose yourself and learn how to create lasting impressions, the further you build your career brand.
- Update your profiles – Update your social profiles, LinkedIn, resume etc. with key milestones you achieve or get from attending these events. Have you become an industry member or joined an association from attending an event?? Add that to your profile.
Like any skill, networking takes time and practice to develop and fine-tune. However, with practice you will reap the benefits of this underrated but highly valued skill.
To networking and beyond!
For further info or coaching on ‘How to network’, contact Winning Edge Resume Service today. We can tailor a coaching session to show you how to prepare for a networking event, what to get ready, practice your conversations and what to do after the event. Contact 1800 GET A RESUME or email@example.com