Networking events are totally out of the picture now that most professional gatherings have converted to online, right? Very wrong. If anything, virtual networking events are even more important now that there are limited chances to make an impression face-to-face. Performing well at networking events can get you that internship or job, but is also very crucial for advancement in the workplace once you have started a career. So, even though Zoom-fatigue is real and spending more time looking at the computer seems counterintuitive, here are some tips to get the most out of networking events whether they are virtual or in-person!
- Show up early. Even if it’s one minute early because you have something to do prior to the event, getting to the event early is not only proper professional etiquette, but will show your skills off and set you apart from the start. Getting somewhere early, even if it is to wait in a virtual waiting room, shows that you are organized, prepared, and interested in the event and company.
- Dress up. Always follow the dress code, even if it’s a virtual event. If you’re in doubt or there’s no dress code listed for the event, always dress up rather than down. Business professional will never embarrass you, even if it’s a business casual event. If switched the other way, damage may be done.
- PRO-TIP: If you’re still really unsure of what the event’s dress code is, you can send a message or email to a representative from the company who will also be attending, which can help you get the answer to your question and let you express interest and excitement about the event! Your name will also definitely be remembered, since you cared enough to reach out and clarify!
- Be attentive. Usually, this is easier to do in-person as there are fewer possible distractions. If you are virtual or distantly attending the event from home, make sure to put away your phone, tell your family you have an important event, or do anything else you have to do to personally reduce the risk of distraction. Even though it’s harder to tell if Zoom attendees are paying attention, it’s still pretty obvious from non-verbal cues, such as looking down or around rather than at your screen or nodding at somebody off-camera.
- Take notes. Taking notes will help you stay focused on the topic at hand, will allow you to remember what was discussed (for future opportunities or interviews), and will impress employers who will know that you are, in fact, paying close attention.
- Participate and ask questions! If there’s a break-out room portion of the event or time to personally talk with an employer, make sure that you have things to talk about. While employee representatives will usually have a little to say about what they do on a daily basis or what their favorite work project is, they will also want to hear about you, your experiences, and your goals in regard to their company. You want to make sure that the conversation flows and the best way to do that is to have a lot of talking points that you can bring up. Additionally, make sure that you have good questions to ask, either at the end of the event at a Q&A or to a specific individual.
There are many great resources online for preparing yourself to talk and network at events, whether virtually or in-person. These are just five very important tips to get the most out of networking events. Make sure you keep checking into CareerEdge, as there is always new and relevant content!