These tips and advice from careers professionals will help you make the most of your Festival experience
Networking is about building and maintaining relationships. Simply asking for information or a recommendation is networking. Any conversation with someone is networking and relationship building. The following will guide you in making this a positive experience.
Networking for career success
Do your homework
Find out who is going to be there and identify who you want to meet. Research the organisation (and the person, if possible) as this will give you the foundation for an intelligent conversation.
Top tip - The Careers Fair App will help with your research
People are going to ask questions about you, so be ready with a few success stories that illustrate who you are and what you can offer. This can increase your confidence in approaching people.
Top tip - Research what your target organisations look for in employees - see point 1
Make a good first impression
Look smart for the occasion if you are going to be seen via video chat. Introduce yourself and have your contact details handy.
Top tip – To help get into a ‘confident’ mood, reflect on a recent achievement or ‘feel good’ incident
Know what you want to accomplish
When you finally get in front of your target contact, what do you want to get out of the interaction? Do you want their business card, a referral or permission to contact them afterwards? Specifics about the roles they offer? The culture of the organisation? Or career progression routes?
Top tip - Do your homework – see point 1
Ask open questions
This will help the conversation flow, and to not feel like an interrogation, enabling you to build rapport. Make sure you show interest, and take the opportunity to clarify understandings.
Top tip - See our example questions to ask
Careers fairs are about expanding your circle of relevant contacts, and learning and remembering as much as you can from your conversations.
Top tip - Make notes straight after, so you can recall your conversation when following-up
To maximise the value of your networking efforts, if you receive contact details, it is good practice to follow up by writing to them to thank them for their time and insights. Be sure to follow up on the contacts you have made as soon as possible.
Top tip - Ask if you can connect on LinkedIn – remember to personalise the request
- If you were in my position, with an interest in _________, what steps would you take today?
- Based on my interest in _________, who else can you recommend that I should be talking to?
- Which jobs and experiences have been most helpful in preparing you for your current position?
- Which particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in your job?
- How would you describe your environment and the people with whom you work?
- From your perspective, what are the challenges of working in this field?
- Which college courses and activities have proven most valuable in your work?
- How important are grades for obtaining a job in this field?
- Which professional journals and organisations would help me learn more about your field?
- Are there any trends or changes in your industry that you foresee?
- How does a person advance in your field? What is a typical career path in this field or organization?
- How does your employer support your professional development?
- What kinds of experiences would you encourage for someone pursuing a career in this field?
- How did you go about finding your job?
- Which strategies would you recommend for getting a job in your field?
- Which skills are the most important to highlight during my job search?
- Which criteria would you recommend for evaluating employers?
- With the information that you have about my education, skills and experience, what other fields or jobs would you suggest I research?
Virtual event etiquette
- It’s important that when you sign up to workshops and employer events that you understand you are committing to attending. Employers and staff will be expecting, and looking forward to seeing you there
- Before booking a place on an event please ensure you are able to attend on the dates and times shown
- If you are no longer able to attend a workshop or event please cancel your space, this allows someone else to take the opportunity
- Aim to arrive on time to workshops and events - employers will expect this in the workplace! With online events it is easier to identify those arriving late
- Inevitably sometimes you might be running late, in this instance look at the event listing and contact the event organiser to let them know
- Be aware that workshops or events you are attending may be recorded
- Engage with the session; participate in activities, listen to the information being given. It’s really true that the more you listen and the more you participate the more you’ll get from attending
- Comments you post in the event will appear to all attendees of that session – avoid sharing any personal information or anything else you wouldn’t want being in the open
- Keep comments respectful and on topic, do your research beforehand and be kind. Asking a relevant question or making an informed comment can create an excellent impression at employer events and ensure that you are remembered for the right reason
Read: ‘You’re on mute!’ – considering online etiquette on the Careers Blog by James Goodwin, Careers Services Manager