Written By: Shekab Lutfi, Director of Communications (Former Vice President of Human Relations)
As business students, we have all at some point heard the well-known adage “It’s not about what you know, but WHO you know.” Considering todays competitive landscape among students and graduates, this adage couldn’t be more correct, as a simple degree in today’s day and age may not be enough to land you the professional opportunities you desire most. Fortunately, one can drastically improve their chances of breaking this cycle depending on their ability to network effectively. This means creating, strengthening and maintaining your professional links in an effort to further your career objectives. Needless to say, to many people this idea can be somewhat nauseating, so here are 5 important networking tips to keep in mind for the next networking event you attend!
Yes, you read that right. As obvious as it sounds, the importance of being a good listener can be somewhat undervalued. Consider this, instead of dreading through the event feeling that you are of no interest to the professionals, counter that by making it ALL about the professionals. Nothing keeps the conversation more engaging then asking many great questions and listening attentively for a reply.
Set Goals Accordingly
Just like with anything in life, setting goals and expectations is vital, and networking events are not limited to this view. Therefore, try setting reasonable goals for yourself as to how many people you plan to meet. Whether it’s to meet a few specific people or generally pursue new connections, it is all in an effort to meet the right people and the more you meet, the more comfortable you’ll become with networking.
Please, Do Your Research
As the attendee, it would be in your best interest to take time to research the corporate representatives and companies in attendance prior to the event. Ultimately, your goal is to impress your key targets with your knowledge of who they are and how your skillset aligns with them and their company.
When you consider that over 50% of communication is non-verbal, it pays to be self-aware of your non-verbal communication skills when you plan to attend a networking event. Minute details such as a simple smile, eye contact, proper body language and even your attire can mean the difference between an engaging conversation and a dull exchange of words.
Whether you consider yourself to be an introvert or a “social butterfly”, refrain from putting on a facade that misrepresents who you truly are as a person. Networking is all about creating as well as building relationships, and it would not make sense to initiate that relationship based on a lie. Embrace your sense of individuality and the relationships you build while doing so are normally the ones you want to keep.
With these 5 important tips, the thought of networking will be less daunting for you than it needs to be. With that said, set your goals, be informed, be all ears and most importantly, be yourself. Best of luck out there and may you be that much closer to your career objectives.