In an ever tech-driven world where IRL (in real life) conversation almost seems to be a thing of the past, the concept of networking can be a bit daunting. Whether at a conference, career fair or coffee shop, you need to be able to step out from behind the screen or look up from your phone to make a connection.
Networking is especially important when you are just starting out, as you never know for sure where your next job could be waiting. As difficult as it may seem at first, with a little preparation, you'll be able to pitch yourself as well as your next best campaign idea.
Have an elevator speech. Be able to start off a conversation with who you are, what you do and what you are passionate about. While where you go to school and what you are studying are important, try to integrate different facts about yourself and your personality to stand out from the crowd.
Create a personal brand. Just like your favorite products, you should have a consistent look that someone can recall. Matching your business cards, resume and clothing can leave a lasting, polished impression on would-be employers.
Listen. After you talk about yourself, be sure to carefully listen to the person you are speaking with and respond to what they are saying. This may seem obvious, but it is easy to get distracted in a networking setting. Don't focus on what you want to say next, listen to where the conversation is going and let it flow.
Follow up. Just because the networking event is over does not mean that the networking itself is. Keep the conversation going by sending a handwritten note or email to the people you exchanged business cards with. If you followed the last step and were listening carefully, be sure to include specific things you discussed. In addition to this, you can also reach out to your new acquaintance on LinkedIn.
About the Author
Amanda Brodzik is a junior account executive at iris Worldwide's Atlanta, Ga. office. She graduated cum laude from Georgia College & State University and received her Bachelor's of Arts in Mass Communication with a dual concentration in advertising and public relations and a minor in art history in 2013. After completing multiple internships, including a summer at Cramer-Krasselt and a year at Porsche Cars North America, Amanda pursued an agency career. She now provides account support to iris' clients Shell, Reebok, Flux, Porsche and Lamborghini.