Do’s and Don’ts: Attending Networking Events

I didn’t visit the Career Services office at my alma mater until my senior year of college. Looking back, I wish I had taken advantage of their services as a freshman. During my senior year in college, I student taught at a local high school, and I almost immediately knew that the teaching profession just wasn’t my niche. In a panic as to what to do with my career, I immediately made an appointment to meet with a career counselor. I remember during my meeting with the career counselor, she continued to talk about networking. Believe it or not, this was the FIRST time I had EVER heard the term “networking”. During my conversation with the counselor, I remember thinking to myself “I have already networked with employers… I just didn’t realize that is what I was doing.” I also didn’t realize that there is an “art” to networking well. So, for all of you soon-to-be college graduates, let me share a few do’s and don’ts of networking at events:

DO have a positive attitude –

Walk through the door with confidence, having decided in advance that you will meet three new contacts and reconnect with established contacts.

DO introduce yourself –

Clearly state your first and last name as you extend your hand for a handshake. If you would prefer a shortened version of your name such as “Bob” or “Jim”, let the other person know by saying “Hello, my name is Robert Jones but I go by Bob”. Be cautious not to use a nickname that might appear juvenile such as “Skippy”. Instead, choose “Melissa” over “Missy” and “John” over “Johnny” at a networking event.

DO stand up –

Rising to greet someone shows respect for the person whom you are meeting or greeting. Both women and men need to stand for a corporate introduction.

DON’T assume you can address someone informally –

Some people use this technique to appear cordial or familiar, but it is a dangerous assumption. Err on the side of caution and use an honorific until you are asked to do otherwise.

DO offer a memorable handshake –

Always offer a proper handshake when you greet someone and then again when you close a conversation. A firm but not aggressive handshake is appropriate for both men and women. Strive to be the first to extend your hand as a gesture of respect to the other person.

DO mix and mingle –

Upon arrival, it is appropriate to greet the host of the event, acknowledge those you know and introduce yourself to others you do not know or do not know well. Spend 6 to 8 minutes in light conversation and excuse yourself with a handshake and continue to mingle with other guests.

DON’T forget to properly close conversations –

A conversation requires closure. A pleasant “goodbye” is mandatory. Always end a conversation by saying something similar to “It was nice to see you.” Never say, “Let’s get together soon” unless you intend to follow through.

Author: Audra Perry

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