May I Have Your Attention Please? The Key to Proper Networking

By Cassandra Rudd

Our last post discussed the importance of the elevator speech when creating connections with a possible employer or contact. This week, we will be featuring the importance of networking. At some point in your college or professional career you will be required to network. You may be at a career fair, a conference or even a dinner party. No matter where you are, these tips and tricks to networking will help you make a good impression with the right person.

The first step to successful networking is, of course, starting up a conversation. It sounds easy, but in the moment one can be a little nervous about meeting such important people. However, this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity and you should be prepared. So what do you do? First up is always an introduction, as they say you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Always introduce yourself and shake his/her hand, and be sure to state your name clearly so that there is no confusion later on. This would be a great time to give your elevator pitch! Need some help with the perfect elevator pitch? You will want to form a connection with the person such as finding a common interest, like the weather, current events, or even sports. This would also be a great opportunity for you to ask some questions about the person with whom you are speaking or about the event. This shows that you are interested in what they have to say.

Which leads to the second step: keeping the conversation going. This can be difficult to do at first, however, with a few simple questions you can get a plethora of important information in a short amount of time. Some ways to keep the conversation going would be to discuss the event you are attending and even ask about their career, company or industry. By keeping the conversation professional and focused on the person you are networking with, you will keep them engaged and show them that you are interested.

The third and final step can be the trickiest: how to end the conversation. Remember you are there to mix and mingle – don’t attach yourself to one person all night. It can be difficult to bring a conversation to an end without coming off as being rude or disinterested. If you’d like to exit a conversation, try some of these suggestions:

  • Try introducing them to other people at the event or changing the subject to a topic that allows you the opportunity to bring the conversation to a quick close and to step away.
  • I’m going to get some food now that the line is shorter. It was great meeting you!
  • Say that it’s time for you to leave. It has been nice talking to you. Or, I would love to talk with you again, though. May I have your business card?

Another important skill to learn is how to work a room at an event to make the most of networking opportunities. There are a few pointers you should always remember when going to an event where you could be networking with several important people.

  • Be sure to research the event you are attending, know who will be there and the focus of the event.
  • In terms of your appearance, make sure that you are dressed professionally but that you stand out in some way from the crowd of other professionals, but not in a way that is offensive. Your overall appearance, body language and clothing should portray confidence. Be sure to smile, uncross your arms and appear interested.
  • A great place to meet and quickly start up a conversation is the food or drink station. People are more accessible and more comfortable talking over a meal or a drink.
  • Next you want to scan the crowd to see if you recognize anyone and if there is anyone in particular you would like to speak with.
  • Try to meet the most important people first, such as keynote speakers, before they get too busy toward the end of the event.
  • Keep an eye out for important people who may be alone, this gives you the opportunity to speak with them.
  • Offer the person your business card. This gives you the opportunity to obtain theirs as well.

“How To Work A Room” nd
For more on how to work a room, please check out Diane Darling’s networking tips.

Learning how to network in any setting is important for forging connections with people who may be able to help you achieve your professional goals. So learn these skills now so that you can have them ready to go when the moment is right and make those key connections that just might land you a dream job or internship.

Red Sox Win The 2013 World Series! Victorino Opens the Floodgates With His Hit Out Of The Park!

By Lori Smith

The city of Boston is rocking as the Red Sox clinch the 2013 World Series! Shane Victorino was the big hitter in game six of the World Series. There were many memorable moments in this series, but for me the most impressive was when Big Papi gave his impromptu pep talk to the team in game 4. This was a pivotal moment which set the team on fire. Big Papi is an MVP both on and off the field!

You too can be an MVP by taking charge of your career. Set your goal to “hit it out of the park” when networking at events. One way to do this is to have an elevator pitch. What is an elevator pitch you ask? An elevator pitch is a short speech that sells YOU, it promotes your strengths and tells an employer or networking contact what you can offer. It answers the question, “why should I hire you?” You need to be able to say who you are, what you have done and what you are interested in doing. People will want to help you but they cannot if they don’t know this information. It would be like asking for directions without knowing where you are trying to get to.

In order to convince others of your value you first need to reflect on your strengths, problems you solved and your achievements. You will need to convey what you bring to the table and how it will help a prospective contact or employer. Be sure to include some specific examples that demonstrate your strengths.

It is also important to know your audience. You will be much more likely to succeed if your elevator pitch is clearly targeted to the individuals/organization you are speaking to. Often times you can just modify your speech to various situations. For instance, you are attending a Career Fair and will be talking to many different organizations. You would want to find out which organizations are attending the fair and then research those you are interested in speaking with.

Writing an outline for your elevator pitch may be helpful. Start with the key points you want to make. Utilize the Rule of 3, what are the 3 most important ideas about yourself that you want to convey. Once you have your outline you can begin filling in the blanks so that it will flow naturally. Finally, you will want to practice your elevator pitch before using it to network. Practice reciting it out loud. If it doesn’t flow as you would like, or you feel uncomfortable with it, change it! Also, try timing your elevator pitch. People often speak faster when they are nervous. Take your time and remember to breathe and SMILE! Keep repeating this process until you have an elevator pitch you are confident in.

Now that you have a great elevator pitch you are ready to begin networking! Be sure to read our next blog which will prepare you to network effectively.