I used to have a love/hate relationship with on-campus networking events. I loved the opportunity to meet recruiters in a casual setting, usually over food, and get to know them on a more personal level. However, I didn’t enjoy having to fight for their time against dozens of my peers.
If it seems like your schedule is overflowing with company mixers every evening for the next couple weeks, you might be asking yourself whether or not these things are actually worth it. In addition to the free food, I’m here to tell you it’s most definitely time well spent.
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your next networking event:
- Treat every interaction with a potential employer as an interview. That means come dressed appropriately and put your best self forward. If you’re planning to stop by an event right after an intense game of ultimate frisbee, don’t bother. It will hurt you more than help.
- Take advantage of the more casual setting to be personable and have candid conversations. This might sound like a contradiction to my first point, but what I’m suggesting is in addition to talking about your interest in the company and asking questions, talk about your hobbies and things you do on campus. These events are designed for good conversation.
- Don’t just go for the food. I love a free meal as much as the next person (especially the one time it was Dragonfly Sushi), but don’t try to pull a dine and dash on a recruiting event. These companies go through a lot of effort just to show up, so if you’re going to get some food, talk to at least one person on the way out.
- Put a face to the name. This actually works both ways. It’s great for you to know the names of faces of the people who are potentially hiring you. It’s even better for them to put your face with the name on a résumé. In my recruiting experience, face recognition has a lot of influence in the decision process.
Recruiting season is in full swing. Be on the lookout for companies coming to campus. As a bonus tip, go to an event for a company you’re not even that interested in, it’s the best practice you could ask for.