You can meet people at networking events who can help you find a job. Learn where to find events and what to do at an event.
Networking events are social events for people who are looking for jobs and people sharing career advice. There are websites that tell you where the events are. You will feel less nervous if you practice what to say, what to bring with you, and how to talk to people before you go. You can also network online and by phone.
What is a networking event?
Networking events can include speeches, dinners, or “happy hours.” Happy hours are gatherings after working hours (usually starting between 4 to 6), where people talk over drinks and food. Most events are usually in the afternoon or evening.
Most networking events for professional level jobs, but some are for entry-level jobs too. Career fairs are events where many employers come together in one space to find employees. These are also a great option.
How do I find networking events?
- Use networking website: Websites including eventbrite.com and meetup.com. You can enter in your address and find free and cheap options in your area.
- Find networking events locally: You can look for networking events at community centers, churches, mosques, and synagogues. To find a community center or place of worship, you can search online for “community center in [your city or neighborhood].” Or you can ask at your local library.
Find your local library
How do I get ready for a networking event?
Networking may not feel natural to you if you haven’t done it before. Meeting strangers can feel uncomfortable at first. Remember that everything gets easier with practice.
An “elevator pitch” is information about yourself to say at a networking event. It is called an “elevator pitch” because it is short – you should be able to say it all while riding on an elevator! The pitch includes your name, your profession, and what jobs you are looking for. Practice your pitch so you remember it all the time. A well-rehearsed pitch gives a great first impression. Here are examples:
“My name is Juana. I am a nanny and I have worked for 5 families in Mexico. I am looking for full- or part-time work taking care of children of any age.”
“My name is Samir. I am an accountant with 4 years of experience in investment firms in Iran. I am looking for a junior accountant position.”
Bring business cards to a networking event
Business cards are small cards with your name, phone number, email and profession or job. The job can be one you have now or one you are trained for. Business cards are very useful at networking events. They allow you to exchange your information quickly.
- Order cards at office supply stores such as Staples or Office Depot
- Order business online from Vistaprint
Be prepared! You should have business cards with you all the time. You may meet someone who can help you through a friend or at the supermarket.
Things to do
- Take your time – do not try to meet too many people. It is better to talk to fewer people and make connections that will last.
- Ask for a business card – also make sure to give people your card.
- Take notes – write anything you want to remember on the business cards you get.
- Follow up – send LinkedIn messages or emails to say thank you and stay in touch.
Watch this video for examples of good networking habits
Things not to do
- Do not ask for favors right away – wait until the person you are talking to offers a favor, or talk to them after the event.
- Do not talk about yourself too much – do not interrupt the person you are talking to. Ask them questions and respond only when they are done.
- Do not talk about politics or religion – focus on talking about jobs and careers
Questions to ask when networking
It might be hard to know what to say to someone you haven’t met before. Here are a few questions you can ask.
- “Where are you from?”
- “What is your favorite part of your job?”
- “How did you hear about this event?”
- “Could you tell me more about what you do?”
- “Do you know of any companies that are hiring right now?”
Other types of networking
You may not have time to go to networking events in person. There are other ways to expand your professional network.
LinkedIn is a website where you can connect to other people in the workforce. It is kind of like Facebook for work. You can talk to people, look for jobs, and post and read articles. It is most popular in the US but more people around the world are using it.
An informational interview is a conversation with someone who is in a job you want to do. This conversation can be in person or on the phone. It should last about 30 minutes. The goal is to hear about their experiences and get advice. Did they need a certificate? Why did their resume look better than others?
You can ask people for informational interview through LinkedIn. You can also ask friends and acquaintances. Always make sure to thank the person you talked to for their time.
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