Networking 101: The Dos and Don'ts
In such a competitive environment, we all know that networking is absolutely crucial to landing that dream job, or honestly, any job. But what is the preparation process like? How do you exude professionalism and friendliness while standing out to recruiters?
During our ABSA event on Monday, October 7th, Lindsey Fressnig from the Career Center and Austin and Marnie Petek from E&J Gallo shared some pro tips, including the Do’s and Don’ts for networking events.
Plenty of research! This includes research on the company’s values, on the event itself, as well as the attendees. With research and background knowledge, you can ask educated questions and genuinely convey your interest and excitement at the prospect of working at this company.
Prepare and practice a conversational, conceptual, and compelling elevator pitch. Briefly talk about the experiences that have made you capable of being a positive contribution to the company without being too specific.
Dress appropriately by following the dress code. If you’re not sure, it’s always better to overdress than underdress.
Print extra copies of your resume. At the end of a conversation at a career fair, politely ask if they are accepting resumes.
Use referrals to get your interview. This is not always possible, but it is more likely to happen the more you network with both peers and professionals (so go to ABSA events to maximize those chances!)
Ask for a recruiter’s contact information, or ask to connect with them on Linkedin after talking with them. Sending a thank-you email within 24 hours is always a plus. After all, these professionals are not obligated to be there; they are there because they want to help us.
Make an appointment or drop-in to Foster Career Services for more advice! These skills can be coached and learned.
Appear disinterested or arrogant. Being confident is attractive, but don’t step into the overly confident territory.
Dress inappropriately. Again, be confident in what you’re wearing and your style, but here’s the general rule of thumb as noted by Marnie: Don’t be Johnny Depp--minimize accessories that will potentially divert the recruiter’s attention away from YOU. You can’t go wrong with neutral makeup, simple jewelry, as well as avoiding strong perfume/cologne.
Post any inappropriate or controversial content on social media.
Let alcohol break your career. Marnie and Austin kindly taught us the One for One or One & Done rule in the event of alcohol being involved in a professional situation. Either one drink to one water, or one drink and that’s it.
Provide examples that are too general. The elevator pitch contains more general and conceptual ideas, but be sure to elaborate on certain experiences with very specific details, especially when recruiters ask.
Frequently Asked Questions (that nobody really answers…)
I got the interview! Showing up late is obviously not an option, but how early should I be?
Don’t be too early. Interviewers usually need time to prepare, get ready, or take a break in between interviews.
I’m nearing the end of an interview or a conversation with a professional. What is the best way to conclude this?
If you have more questions that the professional did not answer, take this time to ask them. An example would be “What are the biggest challenges that you face in this position or in the position I am applying for?” Slightly more personal questions are usually welcome as well (ask about their pets, why they chose this career, where they went to school, etc.)--as long as you don’t make them uncomfortable. Close with “I’m excited for this opportunity. What could be my next step?” This allows you to directly express your interest.
My resume is too long, not only because of my relevant experiences, but I also have creative skills and content that could give me a competitive edge.
Usually, resumes are 1 page only, but it is helpful to create a running document of all your valuable experiences and skills. When submitting a job application or attending an event, cut and paste the experiences and skills that are relevant to the job or specific event. Have a “business resume” and a “creative resume.”
I’m an underclassman. What if I don’t have enough to put on my resume?
Career coaches at Foster are more than happy to help you expand the skills and experiences you have. Austin from E&J Gallo also expressed that every job or experience you have had can be relevant. Don’t be discouraged by only having your summer job or high school volunteer work. That is normal and expected for underclassmen. Explain and quantify how those experiences have developed your leadership, collaborative, communication, etc. skills.
I’m a sophomore/freshman. Many companies don’t hire underclassmen. How should approach a networking event or career fair?
Doing research and asking questions about the company is universal, regardless of what year you are in. Other than company-specific questions, you could ask “What areas should I work on in my resume? What particular skills are you looking for? I’m still exploring different career paths, can you tell me a little bit about your day to day?”
Good luck everyone! We know how difficult the recruiting process is, so we hope this can help you network effectively!