On October 10th, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications held a Speed Networking event run by Paul Jensen, the internship coordinator. During this event, about 40 professionals volunteered their time to network with students in a “speed dating” kind of style. Students were given 3 minutes to speak with the professional, then had to rotate to the next when time was up.
Paul stresses to students that making connections is extremely important. I had the opportunity to practice talking with professionals in my field as well to learn about what employers are looking for.
How do you approach networking in a way that will be impressive to professionals? In student training before the event, Amy A’Hern, a career advisor in the Pomerantz Center, described eight rules for nailing networking opportunities:
1. Prepare your elevator speech
If you meet someone in the elevator you normally have less than a minute to talk to this person. The same applies when talking to someone you want to impress. Prepare a speech that says: who you are, what you have done, and how you can perform in the work environment. This should be about a minute long, so make sure you include all of the important things!
2. Don’t be afraid to emphasize your experience
You may think you are bragging when you say all of the experience you’ve acquired, but you aren’t! Your experience is what will set you apart from anyone else, so go ahead and boast about yourself.
This might be the most important element. Listen to what someone is saying. You will have an engaging conversation and gain a better understanding of the person’s meaning. People can tell when you aren’t listening, so make sure to ask questions as to what the person previously said.
4. Go over your resume, then go over it again
Nothing turns off a future employer more than a resume that you cannot recite backwards and forwards. Be ready to speak about items on your resume, and make sure you are truthful with everything you include.
5. Be confident
Even if you are nervous when talking to someone, be cheerful, be peppy, and be confident! You may not have all the experience in the world, but you can potentially win someone over with your personality. Also, don’t be afraid to make the first move and introduce yourself. Talk about impressive!
6. Don’t burn bridges
After you have met someone, connect with them on Linked In or send them a follow up email thanking them for their time. You were given an opportunity to meet someone, so don’t throw it away by not finishing the connection.
7. Make business cards
Create a business card that is unique and can clearly tell someone who you are. Most importantly, remember to always keep them on hand.
8. Be ready to try new things
During the event, one piece of advice that I received from Nick Pugliese, a Senior Manager of Sports Content for Source Media, is to be broad. Get experience in as many things as you can. If you are a good writer, then work on your expertise in multimedia. Do not close your mind off to something just because it is not in your field.
Networking may seem scary, but if you take the initiative and start the process early, all of your practice will pay off. In the end your connections through networking will help you achieve your job out of college.