If you’re organizing or attending an event at your university or community, you have a great opportunity to network with different people and improve your career prospects. Here are five useful tips to introduce yourself to professionals in your field and pursue employment opportunities in your desired profession.
- Study the guest list
Industry and even university events are ordinarily publicised in the media to create media buzz and attract sponsors. Information about who’s attending is also made known beforehand. So the first thing to do is to research about the companies and individuals attending the event. Draw up a list of those that are relevant to your industry and career goals. This should help you focus your time on interacting with only those people.
- Do your homework
Learn more about the people and companies participating in the event. How they began, the challenges they faced, what their annual reports say about them, what the media has been saying about them, and where they are positioned in the industry. This will help you come up with an interesting conversation opener rather than simply saying, “Hi, how are you?” You’ll be able to say something like, “I’m looking forward to the brand X launch this month” or “Congratulations on winning the fair competition lawsuit”
- Listen actively
Do not become so obsessed with making a good impression that you do not even listen to others. People are put off by those who come across as self-centred and arrogant. Listen actively by showing an interest in what others have to say. Let the other person complete what they have to say before offering your input. Smile and nod to convey that you are understanding what they are saying. Ask questions to show that you’ve been listening with attention and interest.
- Get an introduction
It is normal to feel anxious and intimidated when approaching someone at an event. While you could simply go up to them and say “Hello” it is also advisable to get an introduction from a common acquaintance. You will benefit from their credibility and the other person will feel at ease speaking with you. Your friend can help you both identify a common interest or affiliation to get you started on a conversation.
- Stay connected
This is the most important rule. It begins by offering your business card to the other person and accepting theirs graciously. If you have had a nice conversation, tell them that you’d like to connect with them on LinkedIn or any other professional group you share. Invite them to an appropriate event such as a university event or simply call them for their advice on a term project. They’ll remember you and may even consider you for employment in the future.
These tips will help you learn about the people who have progressed in their profession and build contacts with them. Staying in touch with them after the event will let you remind them of your interest in their company and increase your chances of landing your first job with them.