Networking Tips: How to Work a Room
Networking can serve as a valuable strategy for getting
a lead on a job, gathering information, or catching the special
attention of a company recruiter.
Most of us are not born minglers. Practice and preparation will
help you develop the skills it takes to be effective at an
Info Session, a Career Fair,
or other serendipitous opportunities. As difficult or awkward as
it may feel at first, the ability to meet and make a positive, professional
impression on people will become ever more important as your career
advances and develops. Here are some tips to get you started.
Check your attitude
Many of us are shy or reluctant to approach strangers in new
social situations, so understandably it's not always easy to muster
the energy to try and connect with people at networking events.
That's why it's key to get mentally geared up before you even
show up. Because your attitude often guides your behavior, you
must overcome any negative self-talk that could hinder you from
reaching out to others. Do these outlooks sound familiar?
- "Why should I bother trying to impress this person? I'm only
one of a hundred students this recruiter is going to see today."
- "I don't think I know enough to engage the company reps in
an intelligent conversation."
- "I've never really been good at meeting people. That's just
Such negative thoughts prevent you from pushing past any social
roadblocks standing in your way. The truth is that many, if
not most, people have similar thoughts in group situations and
are just as hesitant to initiate conversations. But if you change
your attitude from negative to positive, you can instead take
the lead. Remember:
- People enjoy talking about themselves. Ask them questions to
get them started.
- People feel flattered when you show an interest in them and
their work/organization. And they will reciprocate your demonstrations
of sincere interest.
- You have more to offer others than you might think; just believe
Redefine what it means to interact with "strangers"
When you join a new student organization or club, you share certain
interests with the members. When you go to a party, you run into
people you've seen in class or around your dorm. A networking
event is not really all that different if you view it as an occasion
to find what you have in common with other people there. Commonalities
help "strangers" connect more easily.
- Take the initiative to approach others, introduce yourself,
and share a piece of information that could reveal the common
thread you share with them.
- During conversations, listen carefully to discover shared interests
- Use your shared background or interests as the basis for sustaining
Prepare and practice your self-introduction
To avoid being tongue-tied when you try to start a conversation
with someone you don't know, prepare a self-introduction that
is clear, interesting, and well delivered. What you say about
yourself will depend on the nature of the event, but in any case,
it shouldn't take longer than 8-10 seconds. Although practicing
your introduction might at first seem silly and artificial, it
will eventually help you make an introduction that sounds natural,
confident, and smooth. Here are a few examples:
- "Hi, my name is Catherine Lee. I'm glad to have this chance
to meet you and learn how a psychology major can break into the
pharmaceutical industry." [Employer Information Session]
- "Good morning, I'm Bryan Sampson, a former summer intern at your
Los Angeles branch." [Career Fair]
- "Hello, my name is Jessica Garcia. I'm a junior rhetoric major
looking to find out what it's like working in public relations
and marketing." [Career Speed Dating Event]
Risk rejection - it's not the end of the world
It happens. Some individuals may not respond to your introduction
in the way you would like. If that takes place, don't take it
personally and just move on. As long as you maintain an outgoing
and friendly attitude, you can plan for continued networking success
- Identifying the goals you want to achieve at the networking
event before you go (e.g., to learn more about a career, to develop
internship leads, etc.)
- Keeping a healthy sense of humor.
- Treating everyone as you would want to be treated. Aside from
being the courteous thing to do, you don't know who might be helpful
to you in the future.
And last, but not least, don't forget how important it is for you
to physically move around and about when you're at a networking
event. You can't work a room when you're sitting down! So get in
there and show them what you've got.
(Source: https://career.berkeley.edu/Article/021011b.stm )