Networking, every college student’s biggest fear. It is unfortunate that they are inevitable and so necessary to help you land a job.
My experience with networking nights did not start off too hot. Do you ever walk into a room and feel like you are an outcast? Well, this is how I felt every time I walked into a career fair or networking night. I went into my turtle shell and hid, talking only to people that initiated a conversation.
I started going to career fairs as a freshman, walking around and talking to no one. I wanted to take in the room and see what networking was all about. I was that awkward kid in the corner that was quiet and took in the atmosphere.
Now as a senior I go to career fairs all the time. They never get any easier, however, I have been able to come out of my turtle shell and hide the fact that I am literally shaking with nerves. I know how to initiate a conversation and introduce myself in a professional manner. The conversation that you have with those in your desired industry is super beneficial. I look to them for help and guidance on the industry that I am perusing. I also get to know them as a person, because those will be the most meaningful and memorable conversations you will have.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you keep your cool while networking with employers.
1. Start going early
Go when you are a freshman. This way when you go back and actually start talking to employers about jobs and internships you will know what to expect. Also by going when you are freshmen, you will be able to see what the upperclassmen do and they can show you what good networking looks like.
2. Power in numbers
If you have the opportunity to go with a group of friends do it! This will allow you to know people in the room and you won’t feel like it is you against the world.
3. Wear Dark Colors
Stress sweat is real and when you are in an uncomfortable situation it is unavoidable. Wear dark colors or better yet a blazer, this way your sweaty pits will be in hiding!
4. Purell is your friend!
Fun fact Purell can actually hide your sweaty palms! You do not want to be that person who has sweaty palms when you meet the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
5. Practice your elevator pitch beforehand
You need to be comfortable talking about yourself, so practice your elevator pitch before you start networking. Practice in the mirror or with your friends.
Asking questions is a great way to start a conversation. It is also a great way to break the ice in an awkward conversation. Be sure you are asking the right questions and leave your networking adventure having learned something about the industry or the companies.
7. Keep it light
The most memorable conversations will not be the ones that are about business. Finding things you have in common with a manager or CEO will make you stand out. This way when they go back to your resume, they will not only see the professional you but also the personable and outgoing you.
These tips and tricks will help you get comfortable at your next networking event. Just remember everyone is feeling the same pressure you are and those employers only got to where they are by networking; so keep having those conversations, only good can come from them!