Last night, Shauna VanderStel, HR Coordinator for Steelcase, attended AMA's second meeting of the semester to speak on career fair prep, how to network, topics to talk about with potential employers, and proper follow up. Alongside her to speak to our members was VP of Corporate & Member Engagement at InForum, Becky Puckett-Wood. Both women gave background on personal experiences, finding jobs, and navigating their professional careers. Additionally, they offered students valuable advice on what it actually means to network. In case you were unable to attend meeting, here were the key takeaways:
1. Maximize Every Interaction
When it comes to networking, it is important to treat every social interaction like an interview. Be genuinely interested in getting to know the person you are talking to and ask yourself what you can do for them, rather than what they can do for you. This will show the person you are speaking with that are interested, engaged, and not just there to ask for a favor. When at a networking event, do not lead with your resume, but rather wait until the end of the conversation to politely offer one. Shauna referenced the famous Maya Angelou quote to get her point across, "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." She also used AMA meetings as a perfect example of an opportunity to come early, start conversations with strangers, and make a few new connections to expand your network.
2. Your LinkedIn Profile Matters
Before attending the career fair, Betty suggested updating your LinkedIn page so you are putting your best face for when recruiters go to view your profile. It is important to keep your experience and information relevant, while also remaining active and posting on your profile at least once a month. LinkedIn can be utilized to do research on companies attending the career fair beforehand, so you are prepared for discussions with recruiters. You might also be able to identify Human Resource employees that will be representing the company at the career fair, giving you an extra advantage when it comes to conversation.
3. Follow-Up is Key
Of all the advice given, Shauna and Betty especially stressed the importance of following up. It is important to keep in touch with former colleagues or supervisors, send an email to recruiters after meeting them, and connect with people you meet on LinkedIn. Be sure to follow-up with intention, meaning you should include a thank you and a request to stay in touch, such as grabbing lunch or coffee and continuing the conversation. This follow-up can be done through LinkedIn, where you should request a connection and always include a personal note. Following-up is the most important step in networking, especially as a student. Shauna emphasized that putting in the time and effort to network before is what paid off for her career in the long run.
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