Grad students nowadays see “networking” as one of the prime reasons to pursue their MBA or graduate degrees. While the main reason for doing so remains moving up the career ladder and a better prospect at the next career junction, having a good network and building the right contacts in school can lead to a plethora of professional networking opportunities that might have been impossible pre-grad school. Whether that is the next shot at the $100K job offer or funding for your next startup idea – the possibilities are seemingly endless.
So, what does it take to make the most of that “famed” networking night on campus that students look forward to? With these simple and effective networking tools and tips, you can be rest assured that you are making the most of your time and deriving maximum value from these events.
- Be prepared – When it comes to networking tools, there is no substitute for being prepared. Just like an athlete prepares to run a race, it is imperative to be prepared for a networking event. Being prepared can have different meaning for different people – while some might polish that 10 to 12 second elevator pitch, others can take the time to understand the audience that will be present at the event. Do your homework – get a list of attendees at the event from your Career Center, research their profiles prior to the event so that you can maximize your time during the night. Prepare insightful questions that will help you make a powerful impact.
Once again-it`s a battlefield out there and smart preparation helps you get a leg up and hit the ground running when you enter the event hall.
- During the event – The time at the event is show time, that is when most candidates have to up their game and make a solid impact.
- Remember to Dress for success and Put Your Best Foot Forward
- Play nice – do not elbow your competition and do not hog recruiters’ time; if you are part of a group, welcome others in, introduce yourself and communicate, whilst knowing when to stop.
- Match your style and conversation with that of the person with whom you are talking-for example, if it is a partner, ask them about the higher goals/objectives/talent in the organization and think through the things that are top of mind for them. But when you are talking to a recent grad or alumni then you should focus on things they like – what key insights they can tell you about making it to the organization and advice in general-people love to share their experiences.
- Don`t ask the same exact question to everyone else unless it is relevant. Also, don`t ask things you are expected to know, be judicious about using their time, remember you too are judging whether this is a place you want to spend your career at, not just them judging you.
- Follow up – An absolute must and yet most candidates don’t do it. Just as a good thank you note after an interview can help make a good impression and keep things moving, it is important to send a follow up note to the recruiters and contacts that you made the night before. With the intense competition amongst candidates these days, this is something that will help you stand out. It is imperative to close the loop with a thank you note as you might get the call because of this gesture. Spend some time within the 24 hours after the event to send thank you notes out.
With these key tips in mind, you can ensure that you are prepared to network well. Doing the basics right for such an event can leave a lasting impact on recruiters and contacts you met at the event. After all, it takes just one call for that interview to open doors or that strong investor-connect to pitch your startup idea! So start planning to use your college and alumni network, and get net-working!