On Tuesday, I attended my first BIG networking event and went home accomplished. Since the start of summer vacation, I’ve been actively involved with a site called the Intern Queen, which is a destination for college students seeking internships, and the company organized its first ever event in NYC. Two months into being the Campus Ambassador for my school, I was among 700+ people at a mixer with dj playing music too loud. It almost felt surreal–red carpet, dim lights, waiting for a drink by the bar.
Though I was taken aback by the turnout, I wasn’t going to let the noise or my over high-heel shoes stop me from connecting with people from some “big” companies.
Step 1: Leave my resume. Bring a business card.
I wasn’t introduced to the idea of having a business card, until an old blog post that advised getting one because you NEVER know who you will come in contact with. Whether you’re on the bus, or at an interview having a card will show prospective employers that you MEAN business. Business cards are appropriate for networking because it is almost always the last impression you can leave with a person.
Plus, vistaprint.com, has a variety of templates to choose from at inexpensive packages.
Step 2: Don’t be shy. Smile!
I’ve never been the quiet sheep in my family, or at social gatherings but seeing so many unfamiliar faces in one space can sway you to keep shut. Don’t be timid, let your personality shine!
Other than the panelist I was scheduled to cover, I barely knew anyone at the event. After I became comfortable talking to the panel, I slowly made my way to other panelists who were representing companies that I was interested in working with.
This is where confidence and self-branding takes you along way. Making eye contact and smiling can grab the attention of others, but it’s knowing how to sell yourself that sells the cake. A firm handshake, and poise is all you need at times. It’s best to scout of employers who you would like to one day work/intern for and tell them what attracts you to their company.
Step 3: Dress to impress.
One of the essential tips in Networking 101 is dressing to impress. Beforehand it’s smart to know what type of networking event you’ll be attending, so that you’ll have a good idea of what to wear. For workshops or intimate meet-and-greets, casual clothing is highly desirable; whereas, networking parties and crowded mixers may call for professional, fashionable attire. These kind of mixers tend to have greater publicity, which may have photographers waiting to snap your picture. You never know who might be there or where you’ll end up seeing yourself!
Step 4: Follow-up.
Just like any interview, meeting, conference or mixer; you want to utilize all the information and contacts you gained. Compile the business cards you collected, because that is your golden ticket to opening up a gate to the brand, or company. Use social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr) to be connected via web 2.0. There’s no reason to miss out on future events, deals or internships now that you have a consistent flow of updates from them.
P.S. I found out about a site that hosts workshops and events in NYC. Check them out here: NYCreativeinterns.com