Whenever students approach a networking night, I receive many questions about attire, what to say, and other questions. Within this article, I’m going to address the frequently asked questions I’ve received about how to work the room at networking events.
What should I wear? What is the attire for this program?
Make sure your attire is ready for action the night before the event. Your outfit should be ironed or dry cleaned before the event. If the event states it’s a business casual event, women should wear dress pants, blouse, or sweater. Women can also decide to wear a skirt and blouse, or sweater. I would highly recommend avoiding wearing high heels. Many times fashion trends seem to dictate what to wear, however, high heels (1 inch or more) can be difficult to walk in and could become uncomfortable when walking around an event. For a networking event, wear either a mid-level heel or a flat dress shoe. Wedges are a perfect option because they are comfortable and can have a professional flair, if they’re not TOO HIGH! For women, subtle makeup – light, and men – clean shaven and hair should have a fresh cut look. Professional appearance is important when you’re interviewing or networking at an event that states professional attire. As for professional attire – both men and women – suit up! Again, women, please be careful of your selection for heel height, and men should have polished shoes and dark socks!
What should I say to professionals at the event?
I’ll mention to students that talking to professionals is the easy part. However, I do respect how nerve-racking this experience can be for many. First, check in at the registration desk, take a deep breath, and view the room. You’ll become more comfortable in this setting as you ease into the scene. The best strategy is to start at the table where there are not many students. You want to have time to engage in the conversation and not feel pressure to move on quickly because a line is forming behind you.
Walk up to the table and introduce yourself (name, maybe major). You should mention that you’re a business student interested in learning about internships or full-time (whichever opportunity aligns with your class year) opportunities. The professional representative will take it from there. They may inform you of some great opportunities that would be a great fit from the information you shared about yourself and your interests. If so, mention your experience and skills you’ve developed with the professional. From that short conversation, you’ve already conveyed you’re interested in their company, their opportunities. When you have a sense the conversation is coming to a close, offer to leave your resume with them and ask for a business card. You are now onto the next table and should use the same method to get to know the additional professionals in the room. Remember, you want to network and meet as many professionals as possible within the time allotted for the program.
After the program, do I follow up?
YES! Follow up is key to continuing the conversation. This is your opportunity to once again highlight your interest in the position(s) and company. Email a thank you to the professional and attach your resume, encouraging them to know that you’ve enjoyed meeting them and are extremely interested in pursuing the opportunity you discussed. A great tip to incorporate into your thank you note, mention where you met recruiter (Bentley University) and what program (Networking Night and date of the program). Recruiters attend many different programs at different schools; therefore, it’s important to clarify where you met.
Attached is a visual diagram “Working the Room”. I know it will be a good resource for you.
Lastly, be excited to network in different venues and feel that you are prepared to make a winning impression.