Like Launch, Drew’s new, groundbreaking approach to higher education, Drew is rethinking how it engages with regional employers and creates opportunities for students and alums to expand their professional and academic networks. On February 25, 2020, Drew students are being presented with a unique opportunity to network directly with the membership of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC). In anticipation of this event, below are some networking tips to those students attending. Remember that there is great value to building a network even if you aren’t currently looking for an internship or job!
Business casual attire is recommended. What does this mean? Business Insider defines it as, “slacks or khakis, dress shirt or blouse, open-collar or polo shirt, optional tie or seasonal sport coat, a dress or skirt at knee-length or below, a tailored blazer, knit shirt or sweater, and loafers or dress shoes that cover all or most of the foot.”
High Level Advice
- Shake hands, make eye contact, and smile!
- Don’t limit your opportunities based on assumptions. You may find your best connection through someone you least expect. Meet as many people as you can!
- Find common ground with Chamber members besides work. Ask if they volunteer, what they do in their spare time or if they are involved with any other organizations.
- Thank any new connections for their time and mention a point from your conversation that stuck out to you, especially in your follow up email or LinkedIn request.
- Follow up! Get a business card wherever possible and send a thank you email or LinkedIn note the following day! “Thank you for a great conversation last night, looking forward to staying in touch…”
Consider Preparing an Elevator Pitch
Elevator pitches aren’t always used to find jobs or kick off interviews. They can be a great way to setup a new conversation in a networking event and let the person know who you are, what makes you special, and what you are looking for.
The Muse has written this helpful short article to help you think through what your elevator pitch might sound like.
Sample Questions to get Conversations Started
- How did you get started in your profession?
- Where did you go to college?
- How long have you been involved in the Chamber?
- What advice would you give someone in college today?
General Networking Tips
- Be yourself. Networking events are meant as jumping-off points for relationship building. Be genuine. The people you connect with when you are authentic are the ones you’ll want to stay in touch with.
- Set reasonable expectations. When attending an event, understand what you are there to do. Is it to practice your networking skills? Is it to meet one or two specific people? These are all reasonable expectations and it takes a little pre-planning to set these goals.
- Take notes. When you ask for someone’s card after having a great conversation, take notes on their business card after they walk away or immediately after the event. This will help you to be more specific in your follow-up.
- Treat people like friends. Would you go to a friend, interrupt his/her conversation, hand over a business card, talk about yourself and then walk away? Of course not. Treat new networking relationships as you’d treat your friendships. Build rapport and trust.
- Ask great questions. The only way to get to know someone else is to ask them genuine and thoughtful questions. It’s always best to walk away from a conversation having allowed the other person to speak more than you did. Not only will they feel great about the conversation, but you’ll have gotten to know a lot about him/her, helping you plan and execute your follow-up more thoughtfully.
- Consider their network. When meeting people, it’s important to remember that even if they can’t help you directly, someone in their network probably can.
- Be engaged. Keep eye contact with your conversation partner. Nod your head and tilt your body towards them when you’re speaking. These small cues go a long way towards making them feel like you care, which helps you to build rapport and trust: the foundation on which you can later do business.
- Don’t be afraid to join in. There is nothing wrong with joining a conversation and waiting for a natural break in the chatter to introduce yourself. In most cases, the people who are already speaking will enjoy the interruption because it gives them a chance to meet someone new. If you sense that you’ve entered into a serious discussion, it’s okay to politely excuse yourself.