From a student’s perspective, the idea of embracing the real world business scene can be intimidating. Decisions you make during your college years can have a huge impact on your career path, and your success. The business contacts that you make during your student life could prove invaluable.
After all, it’s not what you know it’s who you know.
The problem is for all the value college provides, there is far too little explaining how to network yourself and build valuable relations with like-minded individuals from the real business world. Making the idea of networking events just that much more nerve-wracking.
Through this article, we discuss a few tips to help you seize opportunities, and leverage potential connections. These tips will help you approach, and build genuine connections with those that you meet.
1- Take the Time to Find Out Who Will Be Attending the Event
Not every networking event is suitable for your chosen career path. Which is why it is important to do a bit of in-depth research before you dress up for the college networking event.
Through doing research, you should be able to find out who is hosting the event, as well as more or less who will be attending. From there, identify a few key individuals that you would love to connect with. Feel free to take the time to set up a few questions.
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This will leave you feeling more confident, and prepared to network and build genuine relations with attendees.
2- Come To the Event Prepared to Meet the Pioneer of Your Chosen Industry
You never know who you might stumble into at a networking event. When you are preparing for any college networking event, it is important to come prepared. That means dressing the part and having a call to actions for potential long-term genuine working relationships.
Imagine you had to stumble into bill gates, steve jobs, or another genius entrepreneur. You would want to come off organized, and on top of your game right? That is how you should approach everyone you meet regardless of their status in the business world.
The best way to do this is to have an easy way to keep in contact with individuals you hit it off with. Getting a few professional business cards is a great start.
You may also want to consider carrying around an up-to-date resume, after all – you never know right? College networking events are all about setting yourself up for your future after!
But in saying this, at the same time never force your details on anyone. Not only will this leave your credibility in ruins, but it can also lead to awkwardness, these items should be treated as if it were gold. Only consider giving it to individuals that you make a genuine connection with.
3- Have an Attention Grabbing Short And Sweet Pitch for Key Speakers at the Event:
It is always a good idea to introduce yourself to the hosts of the event, as well as the key speakers.
The problem is these are probably the busiest people at any college networking events. Everyone wants to introduce themselves, which is why you should work on preparing yourself prior to the event.
Come up with a short 30-second friendly pitch to throw their way when you get your spotlight moment. Remember, don’t sound like a robot – make it friendly and engaging. You want to stand out. You really want to be the one person that those individuals remember when the event is over and they are on their way back home.
4- If You Are Nervous – Be Completely Honest About It!
Admitting you are nervous is not a bad thing. We see this mistake all the time. Your hearts pulsating. You approach someone new, and in your haste to say what you want to say you completely forget to introduce yourself.
Even worse, you have lost basic human interaction skills.
Now you look like a babbling buffoon.
Don’t worry – that’s why you are reading this article. If you are feeling particularly nervous, just tell the person how you feel. That way they will understand, and more often than not – they will feel the exact same way. If not, they will try help you feel more comfortable. And who knows? They may even introduce you to other people, giving you a confidence booster along the way.
5- Know that Networking Is All About Having Fun and Meeting New People
So often, college students get lost in the “I NEED to do this, and that”. But it is important to stop, and remember that networking events were originally founded as a fun way to meet individuals in similar fields to you.
You may be an introvert, feeling like there is nothing worse than approaching a complete stranger and introducing yourself. It is important to remember that almost 1/3 of everyone who attends networking events feel the same way. Who knows what one conversation with the right person could mean for your future.
The Bottom Line;
More and more colleges are creating opportunities for students to network with the industry influencers in order to gain career assistance and seek entrepreneurial advice, but making most out of these events is totally upon you. I hope with the above tips, you can make most out of college networking events and get connected to the right people. However, do not forget to follow up with your new contacts after the event; send them an email, thank them for their specific advice, and must share your LinkedIn profile to tell them who you are.