With Thanksgiving break having just come and gone along with several familial interactions, it's getting to be that time -- the time for seniors to start freaking out about entering "the real world" in just a few months' time. There's a chance your college is hosting some sort of career fair, career symposium, or another networking event. If you're anything like me, you know you should probably be going to said events, but you just can't seem to get past one itty bitty detail...how, exactly, does one network? It's not your fault- you've been in class for the past three and a half years. Aside from a few discussions here and there about resumes and work-appropriate attire, chances are you haven't had many networking etiquette chats.
Fortunately, there's nothing to fear. Because turns out, networking really isn't that much more than talking, eating, and maybe the occasional business card exchange. However, it's the way you go about all of the above that could make or break a potential future LinkedIn connection.
1.) Know your own talking points.
How will you introduce yourself? What values and characteristics will be most effectively packaged up into an opening greeting that accurately conveys you as a professional?
2.) Know what to bring.
Something to write with, something to write on, copies of your resume, and a small stack of business cards if you have them. That's pretty much it.
3.) Know what you'll ask.
Not only will it be crucial to ask questions that you have about your own goals and aspirations, but it will also be key to ask others about themselves in your interactions throughout the event.
4.) Know that everyone is in the same boat.
While it may be easy to stand in the corner with your plate of hors d'oeuvres, networking will only be as beneficial as you make it. So go ahead, shake a few hands and make a little small talk. Worst case scenario, you'll end the night having met some new people. Best case scenario, you make connections that could help you down the road in ways that you couldn't possibly conceive right now.Have fun and be yourself! Happy networking!