How to Get More Out of Networking Events
As you progress through university, networking events become extra important for meeting people who could be beneficial to your career after you graduate. However, it’s not enough to just turn up: you need to have a strategy in mind to make the most of the event.
1. Know What the Event Is About
Learning as much as possible about the event will enable you to set goals — and to decide if you want to attend at all. Find out if there is a specific theme, who the event is aimed at, and whether there will be any panels or workshops of particular relevance to you. If there will be guest speakers, do your research to find out more about them.
2. Create a Schedule
Add the sessions you want to attend to your calendar, considering which will be most useful for your career goals. Use a floor plan of the venue to decide how you’ll move from one to another and what you’ll do in between.
3. Brand Yourself
Think about how you want to present yourself to other people at the event: this is your branding. Furthermore, just like a business, you have a target audience — this could be employers, people who have a knowledge of the industry you want to enter, or even potential mentors. Decide how you’ll reach your audience and what you can say to make them interested in you.
4. Dress Professionally
The people you meet gain an impression of you before you even start a conversation due to your appearance. You’ll typically want to wear business casual to a networking event, unless you have a specific reason for wearing another style of clothing.
5. Come Prepared
Any connections you make who show a strong interest in you will want to contact you later, perhaps to offer you guidance or to learn more about your experience. Prepare for this by bringing several copies of your resume or business cards. If you have a physical portfolio of work, bring that along. Otherwise, you could include a QR code to a digital portfolio on your business card. Lastly, bring a notebook and pen for taking down information others have to offer you.
6. Reach Out After the Event
Don’t wait for the people you meet to contact you — reach out less than 24 hours after the event to ensure they’ll still remember you clearly. Reference something from your conversation and ask to set up a meeting to see each other in person again. In addition, send requests to connect on LinkedIn to build up your network there.
You’ll have opportunities to network all the time — not just at dedicated events. For instance, if you live in a student community, you’ll have many chances to meet other students. For Carleton University off-campus housing, there’s the Revalie. You can choose to have roommates or your own apartment. In either case, you’ll always have the chance to network in places like the Clubhouse, the Chef’s Kitchen, the Terrace Lounge, and the Courtyard. Book a tour today!