When you’re in university and your friend says networking, you’ll probably have one of two reactions: “Yes, love it!” or “No, I hate it”. My name is Jasleen and being a recent graduate myself, I can safely say that I have experienced reactions on both ends of the spectrum. In the second year, I would have never set foot near a networking event but by the fourth year, I found myself being the last one talking in the group! At the start of my university career I wasn’t a fan of networking for several reasons:
- I believed that the speaker or recruiter wouldn’t remember me.
- I was nervous about being vulnerable and putting myself in a position where I would be judged by my classmates.
- I didn’t know what to say! What were the right questions to ask? What is too much small talk? How do you approach the individual?
Amidst the reasons above, one question remained unanswered for quite some time: Why was networking so important?
The answer came to me one day when I realized that a resume, a piece of paper that we give so much importance to help differentiate ourselves, looked the exact same when I compared myself to the rest of my graduating class. My resume was not a true depiction of who I am as an individual. BUT! Networking gives you the ability to write your narrative, a narrative true to you that would otherwise be lost on that eight and a half by an eleven-inch piece of paper.
Now, I know some of you may be thinking that given the nature of us being virtual, building relationships is almost impossible due to the lack of face to face interaction. I’ll be honest with you, not only from the point of a recent graduate but also as a campus recruiter, it is hard, but it’s definitely not impossible! Building relationships is more important than ever! Here are my 5 tips on how you can show up and be seen at your next virtual networking event!
1. Come on camera and be present!
As a recruiter, one of the best things is when a student comes on camera! Not only does it allow us to put a face to a name, but it also helps bring both of us one step closer to building that relationship. I want to remember that you were the student who wore a bright orange blazer during the event! And let’s also acknowledge that it’s very easy to multitask while watching the networking event given the fact that we are virtual. But by multitasking, you won’t gain the same experience in comparison to someone who is on camera and engaging in conversation. Being present is key! Those two things are simple, but they have an immense impact on creating a positive lasting impression. BE BRAVE, turn on your webcam!
2. Don’t be afraid to be your authentic self!
I know networking events can be intimidating and your first instinct isn’t to be vulnerable and share details about yourself. However, it’s those details that set you apart from the 100 other students also attending the event. Whether that is being a professional swimmer, or that you make the best banana bread, we as recruiters want to know what makes you who you are! Always remember that you are more than your resume, so in addition to you sharing your work experience, share the newest hobby you picked up or what you are passionate about. I promise you, the little details matter!
3. Ask thought-provoking questions.
This is your time to shine and leverage those investigative skills you have! Before coming to an event, do some research on the company and their values, but most importantly look at the LinkedIn profiles of those hosting the event. Once you have done that, come up with 5 questions. Make sure when you are creating the questions you are phrasing them in a way that allows the individual to open up and share details about themselves! For example, “What about your job gets you up in the morning?” or “What has been a project you have worked on that surprised you the most?” The purpose of asking these kinds of questions is to create a meaningful relationship beyond small talk, so make sure you are asking questions that matter to you.
4. Have an outcome in mind.
You can ask all the questions and create amazing small talk, but it won’t go anywhere if the individual you are talking to isn’t aware of your intention for the connection you are building. Once you have built a solid foundation with the individual, let them know what you wish to gain out of the relationship. This can be any one of the following reasons:
- You want to know more about their field of choice
- You want to know more about a certain area within the company and are hoping they can connect you with that individual
- You’re interested in gaining a position with the company at X time
- You want to exchange ideas or thoughts on a topic discussed
- You want to gain tips on X
This is one of the most important steps! In addition to adding the individual you have met on LinkedIn, send a follow-up email. Some of the strongest follow-up emails I have received have the following elements:
- Your name (if there was a joke based on the name, include it too!)
- The event you attended
- Any personal details you shared with the individual (For example: “I was the one wearing the bright orange blazer,”)
- Mention the conversation you had. Include parts of the conversation that stood out to you the most and why. (For example: “I liked when you talked about project X because this is something I am also passionate about.”)
- Include the outcome
- Ask whether they would be interested in a virtual coffee chat. Provide your availability (date and time) and the medium of choice.
Being a recent graduate and a campus recruiter, I understand the emotions and concerns that some of you may be feeling when it comes to virtual networking. The beauty of networking is that the more you do the more comfortable you will be. Go to as many virtual networking events you can and follow the 5 tips I have outlined. I promise you these events will become second nature! Looking forward to seeing you at the next Scotiabank virtual event!
Interested in attending a Scotiabank Campus virtual event?
Check out our Campus events page for more details!