Are you ready for networking?
LIFE AFTER GRADUATION- START WITH NETWORKING
Networking can help you narrow down your choices and focus on getting the job you want. According to the 2017 Graduate Outcomes Survey, nearly 72 percent of students who completed an undergraduate degree obtained full-time employment within four months of graduation. This is excellent news until you read the other statistics. Of the 72 percent, 28.2 percent of undergraduates employed full-time said they were working in a job that did not allow them to use their skills or education fully. That means one-third of them may have settled for employment without strategically planning their long-term goals.
At Strategic Recruitment Solutions (SRS), we can help you overcome the challenge of finding your legal or IT dream job. By partnering with us, you will gain an advocate, coach, and agent. It’s our job to provide you with resources and to guide you through the job search process. We will then help you find the best job match available and assist you closing the deal.
Our first advice – invest in developing your networking skills. Networking involves building mutually supportive relationships that lead to information and opportunities. It’s one of the best ways for young job seekers to get a leg up in this challenging job market. Job networking events are often intimidating for recent graduates. They don’t need to be! The key to a successful networking event is knowing what to say and how to say it.
Here are ten networking tips that will help you start and further your career:
1. DEVELOP YOUR ICEBREAKER
Whether you like networking events or not, they are necessary. If you are nervous or feel awkward about starting a conversation with a stranger, remember all you need is a simple statement to ‘break the ice”. Icebreakers such as commenting on the food being served or the weather are a great way to spark the conversation. After that, you can lead to a short bio that explains who you are, that you recently graduated and where you are looking for opportunities. Remember, when introducing yourself, use a firm handshake, maintain good eye contact, smile and be confident. Once you have started a dialogue, expand the conversation by asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no.”
2. SHOW PASSION FOR THE INDUSTRY
As a new graduate, your strong point will not be your relevant work experience. To impress potential employers, you should demonstrate your passion for the company and its industry. If you research industry trends and know which companies are the top in your field, you may impress your future employer.
3. LESS EATING AND DRINKING, MORE NETWORKING
Business networking events are for moving around, meeting people, listening and joining in on conversations. You are not there for the free food and drinks. To be most effective, you will want to keep your right hand free to shake hands and accept business cards. When you do decide to have a drink or snack, step to the side and finish your food before you “work the room.” Keeping a phone in one hand may also prove challenging. For men, it’s best to keep your phone in your pocket if you are mixing and mingling. Women can slip their phones into a small purse close enough to the body to feel it vibrate or to access it to make an introduction.
4. TALK LESS, LISTEN MORE
Although you may be networking to increase your business contacts or clients, the conversation shouldn’t be focused on you. When telling your story, be brief. When it’s time to listen, make sure you appear genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. Company representatives respect the sincerity and will open up if you ask thoughtful questions. Most people are happy to talk about themselves (such as what they do for a living and how they got involved with the company). When you listen attentively, you can ask follow-up questions and ensure that the conversation is memorable.
5. CREATE A 30 SECOND BRANDING STATEMENT
Networking conversations are like mini-interviews. You need a brief 30-second speech to project a personal brand that sets you apart from other recent graduates who are seeking the same kind of job. As an entry-level candidate who lacks direct work experience, you need to identify what skills you possess that add value to the workplace. Think of real-life examples of how you have demonstrated these skills in your 30-second spiel.
6. EXPLAIN YOUR IMMEDIATE AND LONG-TERM GOALS
Your 30-second branding statement explains what you bring to the company. Now it’s important to explain how you see what the company will bring to you. By articulating your career goals and explaining the qualities you are looking for in your future employer, you separate yourself from the pack. Try a statement like this, “I am looking for a _________ (attorney, paralegal, or in IT) position where I can immediately apply my organizational and communications skills to assist the team. It’s my long-term goal to gain exposure to wide range of _______(legal or IT) opportunities that will help me make even greater contributions down the road.”
7. COLLEGE GRADUATES – DON’T ASK FOR THE JOB!
As a recent college graduate, your goal in attending networking events is to land a job, but you should never flat-out ask someone to offer you one. Instead, ask questions about the industry as well as the company, and talking about your skills and qualifications. After that, ask for advice on how to break into the industry. Most people will be kind enough to offer insightful advice and may even offer to be your referral. Be patient, make introductions and continue to build your network.
8. REALIZE NETWORKING IS A TWO WAY STREET
Job seekers who research prospective employers can discover company weaknesses as well as find opportunities unrealized. When researching companies in advance of the networking event, look for ways you can offer potential solutions to any problems you find. For example, after viewing the company’s social media campaign, you may discover the posts are outdated and provide some new ideas. You can also set yourself apart as an invaluable resource by simply sending a relevant industry-related article to someone you just met. By sharing your knowledge, you can establish stronger connections and demonstrate to others that you value their relationship.
9. KEEP IN TOUCH
Once you’ve established new connections, stay in touch with them. While you may see certain classmates and professors frequently, make sure not to lose contact with your peers. Be prepared to help them when they need a favor.
10. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR ADVICE – Relax and enjoy the event.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Networking works best when you are unafraid to ask for support, from advice to mentorship and resources. If you’re at a networking event, don’t forget to relax and try to enjoy the interaction at the event.
At Strategic Recruitment Solutions, we are here to help you forge your new career path. We have been instrumental in helping job seekers find their dream jobs for more than a decade and have done so by working closely with candidates to find the companies and opportunities that match their skills, experience, interests, goals, and career aspirations. Because we work with most of the law firms and technology companies in the Louisiana Gulf Coast region and the nation, we can provide access to positions that may not be advertised on job boards or a company’s website. Search our current opportunities or submit your resume to get started!