(Photo by Paige Gross)
If you didn’t make it out to our eighth annual NET/WORK Philly event last night at The Fillmore, you missed some cool connections and hot networking tips.
About 500 people looking for their entry into the tech world, a mid-career change or just to scope out some new opportunities mixed and mingled with folks from about 50 area tech companies.
Two members of Seer Interactive’s people operations team, Emily Meekins and Jacqueline Wallace, led a workshop, “NET/WORK Like a Natural,” to help folks get through the often nerve-wracking process of networking like a natural. Of all jobs that are filled, about 85% of them are done so through networking in some capacity, they said. And as much as 72% of hiring managers say that their first impression is impacted by someone’s appearance and handshake.
But the meat of the conversation, they said, includes this basic format: the open, the close and the follow-up.
Your elevator pitch should be like a standup routine, Meekins said — you should have the bones of what you want to say down, but you should shift it depending on who you’re talking to.
During your “open” of the conversation, you can share what career aspirations you have, what experience you have in the field or even your passions are interests. Your opening of the conversation can take a few routes, but don’t overwhelm the person you’re talking to with a monologue of information, Wallace said.
“Sometimes people start in on telling me all the things, which I do want to know, but take a breath — this is a conversation,” Wallace said.
Do be confident, know your audience and know what they do at the company. Don’t let the jitters get to you or try to share it all at once. Just focus on the highlight reel.
“At the end of the day, hiring managers — we’re just people too,” Wallace said.
During the closing of your conversation, focus on grabbing a business card, inquiring about any potential next steps and then take a few minute break before you launch into a new conversation, the pair said. Do be appreciative of their time and take a few minutes to write down any important notes from your conversation, but don’t cause a traffic jam if you’re at a crowded event or forget what your goal is.
And an ever-important step, Wallace said, is the follow-up. When looking for ways to stand out, think about how you can show gratitude for their time in an email and be clear and specific about your goal.
“What did you want out of that interaction?” Wallace said. “The more specific you can be about what you’re looking for, the easier for that person or recruiter to know what to do next.”
Do be timely and personalized in your follow-up, articulate your goal and reference something from your conversation. Do not just copy and paste your message to everyone you met in one evening, Meekins said.
And, the pair said, this formula works well in a job fair setting, a specific networking event or even if you casually meet someone who works for a company you admire. And when it comes to extending networking out to the real world?
“I think that opening doors to help other people and maintaining mutual connections and relationships with people in your field is one of the best ways to make genuine connections that could turn into opportunities,” Wallace said.-30-
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