Networking at Career Fairs & Professional Events
Just like in all aspects of networking, you will not be able to immediately secure a job or internship by attending one of these events. Instead, these events allow you to:
- Get to know the industry and potential employers more.
- Allow recruiters to get to know the person behind the paper application, which can help you stand out from the crowd.
- Gain contacts with whom you could do informational interviews.
- Practice your speaking skills in front of professionals.
- Get leads on specific jobs or internships.
Before the Event:
- Review the employers or names of people attending the event (if available). Research them as much as possible by looking at Career Insider, Glassdoor.com, or people’s profiles on LinkedIn.com.
- Come up with a target list of employers/people you want to meet. In coming up with that list, be open-minded. Remember, a technology company offers more than just technology jobs. They may have Marketing, Human Resources, Sales, Finance, and many other types of jobs. Likewise, a non-profit organization may be looking for similar positions in Human Resources, Finance, Fund-Raising, Research, etc.
- Create a list of questions to ask employers or attendees.
- Practice your 30 second introduction.
Think about- Who are you? - What kind of opportunity are you looking for? - What are your strengths? - Why are you interested in talking with them?
- Practice making good eye contact, smiling, and having a good hand-shake when introducing yourself.
- Print off copies of your resume or bring business cards with you. The CDO offers free resume paper. Just stop by to pick some up. There are several websites that offer free or low-cost business cards.
- Dress appropriately for the situation. Business or Business Casual is appropriate for most industries. However, each industry is different, so investigate attire before you go to the event.
During the Event:
- As you approach the recruiter or contact, introduce yourself. Maintain good eye contact, smile, and shake their hand.
- Ask them questions that you prepared prior to the event.
- Before you leave, make sure that you’ve give them a copy of your resume or a business card, and that you get their business card as well.
After the Event:
- Go through all the business cards you received and make notes about the contacts while the information is fresh in your mind. Remember to keep track of all contacts in an Excel sheet, calendar, phone or any other organization system. Make notes of when you need to follow-up.
- Follow-up with thank-you emails or hand-written letters. Make it personalized to each contact. If possible, try to mention something memorable about your conversation.
- Schedule informational interviews with contacts that you wanted to talk to longer.