Networking fairs are prominent in the upcoming months with the upcoming spring hiring season. Take advantage of them. For college graduates or young adults, networking can be daunting because gets a foot in the door to prospective careers. Everyone has a different way of approaching networking, and what better way to practice communicating with industry professionals than through a networking fair? Networking takes a lot of preparation, so before heading to a networking fair, check out the following list for a successful and productive day of networking.
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Gain knowledge into the networking event
First and foremost, it is best to read about the networking event prior to arriving. Some background information to gather include the companies and business that will be present, a program schedule and what it entails, and activities that will be offered at no charge. Networking events, for instance, often provide the opportunity for free or low-cost professional headshots and cover letter and resume reviews. These professional development opportunities thoroughly prepare young adults for future interview opportunities.
Research career fields
Another great way to prepare for a networking event is to research and gain knowledge on a prospective career or industry. For those who already have a career in mind, networking fairs provide the best insight into what their chosen industry offers. For some, networking fairs provide time to learn about various careers and broaden their understanding about a specific industry. Gathering information on a prospective career contributes greatly when communicating with professional industry leaders because it highlights knowledge and helps in asking intellectual questions. Networking fairs are the perfect time to learn about specific careers and industry trends from professionals.
Bring several hard copies of your cover letter and resume
Sometimes, companies will grant a short interview on the spot at networking fairs. The best way to stand out is providing them with a cover letter and resume for their reference. Additionally, cover letters and resumes come in handy as a graduating senior looking for a connection with a hiring manager or company recruiter at the networking fair. Specifically, for those who know which career to pursue, a cover letter and resume works wonders when it comes to leaving a lasting impression on any prospective company. Cover letters and resumes can be generic for a specific industry or tailored to a specific position within a company.
Print business cards or contact cards
Designing and printing a stack of business cards allows for a lasting first impression. They allow for an easy way to relay personal contact information to working professionals. Business cards should have a simple design that shows personality and include pertinent information, such as first and last name, graduation year, major or degree information, professional email address, relevant websites or links to digital portfolio, and a phone number. Order a bulk of business cards and generously use them throughout the event. Don’t be shy about giving them out.
Dress to impress
Looks create a lasting first impression, and when attending a networking event, dress for a business-professional environment. Business outfits can include pieces such as a knee-length skirt or dress, suit, blazer, and slacks. Dressing professionally helps to leave a great first impression and may lead to a striking conversation with a respectable hiring manager or industry leader.
Preparation is the key to a productive networking event and without it, networking loses meaning. Set a goal prior to networking— the opportunity to network successfully allows for intellectual conversations with professionals in a desired field. Networking is a continual process that will constantly evolve and change according to specific career goals and professional development.
Sara Kim graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and a double minor in Health Policy and Management and Asian American Studies from Ithaca College. She currently works as an Event Coordinator at a non-profit. In her free time, she enjoys working out, reading, watching movies, and cooking. Fun fact: as a foodie, she loves to try new foods and travel to new places.