How to Impress Employers at a Networking Event

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If you’re a graduating senior or a student on the hunt for an internship, you probably have a love/hate relationship with your college career center. On one hand, you want them to be there for you 24/7 when you need your resume looked over right away. On the other hand, you’re about to kill yourself if you get one more invitation to attend an advanced pantsuit shopping seminar. I know. Learning to be professional isn’t fun and it isn’t always easy. And that’s why we’re here to help you.

A few weeks ago CollegeCandy was invited to attend a media networking event at a local college, and thinking ourselves the experts in all thing media, we obviously attended. While I met a ton of awesome, charming, smart students who I would love to hire one day, I also met a lot of students who clearly didn’t even take the time to Google “how to behave at a networking event.” Because, big insider industry tip, it’s not all about printing out your resume and handing it out.

Want a few tips on impressing people at a networking event?

Here goes:

Be yourself. I met a million students all on their best professional behavior and after the 16th super-professional-I-went-to-a-how-to-network-seminar speech, I started losing track of who was who. So if you’re funny, be funny. If you’re smart, be smart. And if you’re melancholy, recite me a sad poem. That way, when you send me a follow-up email, you can reference something, anything really, and I’ll remember you.  I work for a college blog, not for an investment bank; I can handle a few crossing-the-line jokes and pop-culture references.

Be polite. I can’t believe I even have to say this, but I was shocked at some of the rude behavior. I get it, you’re here to get a job or an internship. I know that. I was in your shoes not too long ago. But that doesn’t mean you can walk up to me and say “what can you do for me?” What can I do for you? I’m a struggling blog editor living in NYC, I’m lucky if my fly is zipped every morning. Why not tell me what YOU can do for ME. We had 100 intern applicants for four spots this year. I assure you, we don’t NEED you. We need talented interns…who will come into work every day, produce awesome content, and, ideally, tell me when my fly is down.

Do your research. Find out who is coming before you show up. Take the time to research companies that you’re interested in. Nothing was more exciting for me than a student approaching me and saying, “I love that article you did on global penis size today.” And nothing disappointed me more than, “I’m looking for a full time job in online media when I graduate. So are you guys like a candy blog that, like, blogs about popular candy in college?” All you need is ONE fact to blow someone away. And it doesn’t hurt if that one fact is mixed in with a compliment.

Work on a good closing line. It’s okay if you’re not interested in my company. I’m not interested in a lot of companies either. But that doesn’t mean you should say “it’s not for me” and just walk off. All you have to say is thank you for your time. Why go through these fake gestures? Because, news flash, the spiel I just gave you on how I got into new media, I also gave 56 other students. I like talking about my job, but after the 1000th time, my throat gets a little hoarse and I get a little sick of saying the same thing. It’s just polite to let me down gently. And also, fun fact, I know people who work outside of CollegeCandy, and maybe, if you’re nice to me, I’ll give you the hook-up.

Follow up. I met so many people who gave me their resumes, told me we sounded like an awesome company, and then never emailed me. Like, guys, I have a busy job. Do you think these CollegeCandy Facebook statuses write themselves? I want to help you, I really do. A lot of people helped me get to where I am. But I can’t do that when it takes a lot of extra effort on my part. If I gave you my email, then by all means email me. Assuming you’re not asking me to send $100,000 in unmarked bills to a Nigerian bank, I will write back.

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