If I were to ask you whether you feel comfortable virtually networking with people, what would you say? Most people—probably you included—feel out of their depth. Networking, in-person or virtually, is definitely one of those skills that needs to be learned through hands-on practice. So, with Thursday’s New Tech Virtual Job Fair in mind, here are five tried and true networking tips to help you brush up on this valuable skill.
- Meet more people – The goal at any networking event or job fair is to meet as many people as possible. If you find a recruiter or hiring manager (or even just an employee of a firm you’re interested in or a cool person), ask for their LinkedIn and for permission to stay in touch. Plan to spend just a few minutes of quality time in chats with each person you meet, and then politely move on. Check out our list of events we think are great and search keywords for topics you’re interested in (i.e. startups, hiking, biking, underwater basket weaving) on Meetup.com to discover new great virtual opportunities to meet great people.
- Prepare your ‘pitch’ – In the case of a job fair, networking with recruiters is a great opportunity to talk about your skill set and future goals. Thanks to the virtual format of the Job Fair everyone will get time directly with recruiters but you still want to make the most out of it! So, the best thing to do is to practice a personal ‘pitch’ before you actually meet any recruiters. Research the companies you’d like to talk with to share interest in them and why you’re a beneficial fit for the company. Don’t just talk about yourself with them. Make it concise and specific to what you’re looking for.
- Engage – If you don’t find your dream career at a job fair, do you give up? No. Show the recruiter that you’re interested and engaged by asking additional questions, like, “What should my next steps be?” “How is the outlook for the future?” etc. Even if there aren’t matching positions right now, that doesn’t mean that something won’t open up soon.
- Be in it for the long-haul – Networking, like building any relationship, can take time to show results. Don’t expect a job to magically land in your lap thanks to one meeting. Be a good listener, stay in touch occasionally, and expect to cultivate that relationship.
- Don’t forget the follow up – Following up with the people you met at a networking event is an obvious but often neglected part of networking. If you’re sending an email, it doesn’t have to be long. Just a quick ‘thank you for your time’ message with your contact details would be a great idea. And if that person gave you some advice or suggestions, let them know how everything panned out.