The OSU Media and Strategic Communications School presented a networking expo today. When we heard there were lots of professionals there recruiting interns, we decided we had to turn out too. We didn't want someone else snatching up all the good ones!
I slapped some QR codes & links to our internship posting on the back of my business card (felt like a total genius) and headed out with my team in tow.
Then we just had to network. At its best, networking is something even the most outgoing have to work at. At its worst, it is awkward, embarrassing and even agonizing. So how do you do it?
Take a wing man. Garrett was my wing man today. It makes the lulls between table hopping less awkward, because you're never alone. And, if you are a little on the shy side, having a buddy can bolster confidence and help keep the conversation going.
Work the room. Sure when you first arrive, you have to get the lay of the land, but then it's time to beat feet. You can't assume people will come to you. Scope out a small group or someone standing solo and go introduce yourself.
Have some questions ready. Today, we had an agenda: recruit interns. So I looked for students, then asked about their graduation date and major. If they were fit, I asked if they were looking for internships and then gave them my card and explained the link and QR code.
Get in and get out. The point of a networking expo is to meet lots of people. Obviously, you want to spend enough time with each person to feel like you have really met them, but you don't want to spend half the event with same group. The hard part is often how to end the conversation. Something like "It was nice to meet you," or "Good luck with your job/candidate search," can be nice polite ways to say "Ok, thanks, I'm done talking to you now."
Be respectful. If someone takes the time to talk to you, take some time to actually listen. Even if they aren't exactly who you are hoping to meet (sophomores and juniors majoring in PR seeking fall internships) they might still be a great connection to the person you are looking for. That's why it's called NETworking. I often see people pinging around like squirrels, dropping conversations in mid-sentence to dash off to another person. This doesn't make you a good networker, it just makes you rude.