Make us your home page
Instagram

Work the room wisely at networking events

Networking events give job-seekers an opportunity to meet prospective employers and make an impression that could lead to employment. Recruiting expert Kevin Roach, a professor at Texas A&M University's Mays Business School, and Lisa Burton, a career coordinator at the Texas A&M Career Center, give seminars teaching college students how to "work a room," to present their best selves at networking events and land that job.

Do your homework

Networking events, such as career fairs, may have dozens of company recruiters in attendance. Roach and Burton say rather than trying to meet as many recruiters as possible, find out in advance which companies will be represented and pick the five that are most relevant to your career search. "Research those companies so that your comments and questions are informed," says Roach. "Then you can say, 'I see your company is expanding to a new area; what are your hopes for this expansion?' You have to be directional — don't walk into the room without a plan."

Find a connection

Keep in mind that networking events are social settings, not formal interviews. "It's not just about collecting business cards and handing out resumes, or impressing them with your high IQ," Burton insists. "It's about making conversation with people and finding connections so they remember you later. Find out what you have in common and feel free to chat about your lives and backgrounds."

Make it about them

Taking the focus of the conversation off of you and putting it on the recruiter can not only ease a job-seeker's nerves, it may fulfill a subconscious desire in the recruiter. "People like talking about themselves, so when you shift the focus onto them, they'll probably walk away saying 'hey, I really like that one,' not realizing it's because you allowed them to share their own stories," notes Roach. Ask them "what do you like most about working for this company?" or "your busy time of the year is coming up — how do find your work-life balance?"

Tell your stories

Networking events are about personal branding, says Roach, and one great way to brand yourself as a worthy hire is to tell stories. "Pick three good stories from your life and share what you learned from the experiences," he explains. "They can be work-related or something from your personal life. Each story should have three parts: set the stage, describe your role and give the outcome. A good story will illustrate multiple positive aspects of what is special about you."

"When a student is having trouble landing a job, it's rarely because of their GPA," adds Burton. "It comes down to their ability to make those connections with people, present themselves in the best possible light and show what makes them special."

Don't linger

There's no set amount of time for networking encounters, but you don't want to stay so long that the recruiter is itching to move on. "Networking is not the time to share your deepest thoughts," Roach advises. "Make the connection, be memorable and then wrap it up. 'It's been great to talk to you. I'm very interested in what your firm has to offer — do you happen to have a card? May I give you my resume?' Then a handshake and move on."

Take a break

A day of networking can be exhausting, so Burton suggests taking breaks in between talks with recruiters. "Step away and have a seat," she advises. "Recharge and go over your notes before you move on to the next one."

Write a thank-you note

That night, before you go to bed, write a thank-you note to each recruiter you met. "Hopefully, you've made a connection and can reference it in the note so the recruiter remembers who you are," says Roach. "Thank the recruiters for the opportunity to meet them, tell them you enjoyed learning about the company and that you look forward to learning even more. That's telling them you're interested and the ball is in their court."

Work the room wisely at networking events 02/24/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 24, 2014 2:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    Times Staff

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  2. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  3. Ford's Garage opens new Westchase spot

    Business

    Ford's Garage opened its sixth Florida location in Westchase this week.

    hillsevbiz081817: Ford's Garage opened its sixth Florida location in Westchase this week. Photo courtesy of Ford's Garage
  4. Carls Patio celebrates great outdoor furnishings in Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — While many northerners are shoveling snow, Floridians are lounging poolside in the middle of winter.

    hillsevbiz081817: After selling outdoor and patio furniture in locations in South Florida since 1993, Carls Patio has opened its first store to open in the Tampa Bay area and there are plans for more. Photo courtesy of Carls Patio.
  5. Massage therapist opens South Tampa office

    Business

    As a social worker in the early '90s, a majority of Tracy Jones' cases were people dealing with depression.

    Tracy Jones recently opened Tampa Bay Sports and Medical Massage in South Tampa. Photo courtesy of Tracy Jones.