Networking nerves? Ten tips to help you make a positive and lasting impression!

Thursday, November 1, 2018
Opportunities to engage with potential employers and experts in your field of study are fundamental to your career development and future goals. That’s why building your professional network can seem like such a daunting task. While it’s important to be yourself, it’s vital to take the necessary steps to ensure you can develop a strong connection with someone new.

Guarantee that you leave a positive first impression with these ten tips, designed to help you make the most out every networking opportunity:

  1. Prepare accordingly. Clearly define your goals for the event to ensure you use your time effectively, making the most of each conversation. Do you want three job leads? Do you want to learn more about a particular industry? Think critically about areas where your skills and experience might overlap with the people you meet.
  2. Dress to impress. Networking events generally follow a business casual dress code. Consider your wardrobe as an extension of yourself and dress for the job you intend to get.
  3. Introduce yourself in a strategic way. Have a clear self-introduction statement identifying your education, relevant experience and knowledge. Be prepared to adapt your message to each employer you meet.
  4. Make eye contact and smile. Your body language plays a significant role in communication. Looking someone in the eye and smiling helps demonstrate warmth and endearment, leading to a more positive connection.
  5. Ask questions. Consider what’s important for you to know before you arrive and write down some questions that you can work into your conversations. (e.g. What kind of person would do well in this company? What industry trends are or will be impacting your company? What types of skills are in high demand? What types skills do you anticipate will be in demand?)
  6. Listen. Listen for cues about the employer’s needs, goals or potential concerns. Customize your message to align with what they have identified. Pay attention to key words and include them in your responses.
  7. Call the other person by name. Be sure to get their name when you introduce yourself. If you’re reading a name badge and you’re uncertain about pronunciation, ask politely. People are more receptive when they hear their own name used in conversation, but you must ensure you’re using it correctly.
  8. Promote yourself. This is your chance to highlight that you are a valuable asset to any organization. Understand the employer’s perspective and tailor your message to show how your knowledge, experience and skills can meet their needs and support their business goals.
  9. Be mindful of the time. If you have what you need from your conversation and you notice other students waiting, politely wrap things up. A great way to conclude a conversation is to ask for a business card or suggest a follow up activity like coffee or a phone call.
  10. Follow up. Having asked for a business card from anyone you connected with, you are ready to follow up. Within three business days – the sooner the better – email a thank you note. If there was something else discussed (such as sending a résumé) be sure to do that within this time frame. 

For more tips and information, please visit the Centre for Career Action’s Career Hub. Log in with your WatIAM ID and password and click the “Find Work” icon to locate topics like preparing a self-introduction statement, job and career fair, networking and more.