Professional networking can be daunting, but it is an important skill to learn. Networking can provide you with career advice, insight, as well as helps employers put a face to a name. Networking events serve to bring applicants and employers together, so that like-minded individuals can meet and build strong relationships. While networking allows employers to meet people they believe will be a great fit or asset to their company, it also allows students to meet their future co-workers, and see if they see themselves thriving if they were to potentially work with them.
Those of us who have networked in the past have a general idea of the types of people we will come across at these events. On both the student and employer side, there are many types of people you will meet when networking. Be prepared to learn how to navigate around different personality types.
- The Loner
More often than not, this personality trait is more on the students side. Since employers are used to interacting with others in a professional setting, they are more inclined to be willing to speak with you. If you think that you’re not the best talker, that’s okay! Still try to put your best foot forward; hiding out in the corner makes employers think you aren’t engaged nor interested in what they have to say.
2. The Leech
Have you ever known a person who simply won’t leave you alone? As a student, avoid following one person around for the entire event; chances are, the employer wants to speak with as many candidates as possible. Also, the more employers you speak to, the more options you have! On the other side, if an employer is taking up all your time, try to end the conversation respectfully and gracefully before moving on to introduce yourself to someone else.
3. The Lurker
Staring from across the room trying to work up the courage to speak with an employer won’t get you very far. Chances are, most people at the event are just as nervous as you are. Lurking can be interpreted to mean that you aren’t personable or approachable, and employers are less likely to be impressed by you. Take a deep breath, and introduce yourself!
4. The Chatterbox
While it is true that you are supposed to talk at networking events, there is such a thing as talking too much. Pay attention to the body language of the person you are speaking to; if they feel uncomfortable or uninterested, naturally and respectfully end the conversation by shaking their hand and moving on.
This article was written by Timaj Yusuf, ’18, who is the OACS Social Media & Writing Intern at University of Richmond.