Networking is an important skill to learn as a student and can be one of the scariest skills to master. It is especially important when you are looking for employment. Here are some tips to help you land an interview.
Prepare for networking events, read up on the company, shine your shoes, show up on time, brush your teeth, smile, throw out your gum and practice a solid handshake. These are simple yet essential ways to ensure a good first impression.
Recruiters are impressed when a student that has done their research about the company and their industry and asks intelligent questions. Read the news, watch some sports events, read some magazine articles, be ready to carry a conversation about everyday topics and current events. Your education, skills and extra-curricular activities are on your resume; your potential fit within the organization are determined by what you do and say. When you are at networking events, focus more on relationship building than on your resume.
Many students attend networking events. It is easy for a recruiter to forget the names or faces of everyone they meet. Be visible but not annoying. This doesn’t mean wear neon clothing; it means give the recruiter a reason to remember you. Ask intriguing questions, be the first to approach the recruiter, tell an interesting story and develop a connection through a similar interest you might have (like loving the Sens, or hating the Leafs). Remember to ask for a business card and offer your own. Despite common belief, recruiters do keep students’ business cards for future reference. If your picture is on your card, it helps the recruiter put a name to the face they remember meeting.
The most important part of networking is to remember that relationships are not built in one day. Follow up with an email to thank the recruiter for meeting with you and connect with recruiters on LinkedIn. If you maintain contact with recruiters during your search, they will remember you and you will feel more comfortable in the interview. Networking can be scary and awkward, once you get some practice, it can be fun and rewarding. Smile, be yourself and let your glowing personality lead the way! Good luck with your employment search!