One of the most overlooked opportunities at a job fair or other networking event is interacting with other job seekers.
Every time I think of networking I revert back to high school and going to the high school dance. You go into the gym. Look around. Wonder why you are there. Is what I’m wearing cool enough? Will anyone ask me to dance?
The anxiety and possible rejection are enough to have anyone running for the door, just as much today as back then.
But there is real value in connecting with other job seekers. You may get information on:
• Companies who may be hiring
• Trends that other job seekers are seeing
• Job opportunities that were not on your radar
Keep it Simple
One of the challenges with networking is determining what your goal is or how to define success. Adjust your goal to something attainable, and your chances for success are much higher.
While getting a job or an interview might be your goal for your next networking event or job fair, keep your goals simpler. You’ll be more relaxed and able to connect with people more easily.
What are some “simpler” networking strategies?
• Find someone who may not have anyone to talk to and introduce yourself. Don’t check their name badge. Just talk to them as a person.
• When standing in line waiting to speak to an employer at a job fair, strike up a conversation with the people in line around you instead of checking email on your phone.
• Approach another job seeker and try out your elevator speech. Briefly introduce yourself and state the type of work you are looking for. Ask them what they are looking for and really listen to their response. How did their elevator speech compare to yours? Any improvements you can make based on the interaction?
• After attending a career seminar, talk to other seminar attendees and get their feedback on how the class will impact their job search.
Security Cleared Networking
Sometimes security cleared job seekers are hesitant to network. But you don’t need to provide classified information to others to network effectively. Read this post from Patra Frame on A Job Fair? Networking? But My Work is Classified for some guidance.
If networking makes you anxious as it does for many people, simplify and take the pressure off. You’ll probably enjoy the situation more as well as end up with better intel to help your job search. Happy networking!
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