As a high school student, there comes an inevitable point in your senior years where you must make big decisions about your future career. Maybe you’re struggling to decide between two different paths or you haven’t found an option that feels like the right fit for you. Careers networking events are the perfect place to get the answers you need, which is why we’ve put together these networking event tips for students.
Whether you’ve been to multiple networking events already or considering attending your first one, these networking event tips are guaranteed to help you make the most of the experience.
1. Define your goals
With limited life experience, it can be hard to fathom the huge number of study, internship, or skill-based career paths that are on offer. That’s why we recommend you treat networking events as your opportunity to either understand what opportunities are out there or to get more certainty about your dream career.
In some cases, these events can even lead to future internships or employment opportunities. But to make the most of these events, you’ll need to first be clear about your goals.
Some students attend these events with a very specific career path or company in mind. Others might be more open-minded and want to explore all their options before making any decisions. No matter what your situation is, it’s important that you know what information you want to get out of the event. This will help you make better use of your time and get more out of the conversations you have.
2. Do your research
Ever wondered how to prepare for a networking event? We commonly recommend that you start by researching the networking event itself and the kinds of industry experts you’ll be able to access.
Once you know what kind of information you’re hoping to gain from a networking event, it’s time to do your research on the businesses or organisations that will be in attendance.
If you have a particular company or career path in mind, look into their website beforehand and familiarise yourself with their work. This will give you a better understanding of the organisation and help you ask more informed questions when speaking to a representative from the company. It’s also a good way to break the ice and start a conversation!
3. Prepare questions in advance
Asking questions is one of the most important things you can do at a networking event. Not only does it show that you’re interested in learning more about the organisation or company, but it also allows you to get specific information that will help you in your decision-making process.
Students sometimes also tell us that they’re nervous about asking “silly questions” in case they get embarrassed. It’s OK not to have the answers to everything- that’s what networking events are there for after all! Approaching each conversation with an open mind and being curious about a particular career path is one of our best networking event tips for students.
Additionally, to make the most of your time, we recommend preparing a list of questions in advance. This way, you won’t forget to ask anything important and you can also use your questions as a conversation starter if nerves do kick in!
4. Be confident
When meeting new people, especially experienced professionals, it’s natural to feel a little shy or out of place. However, it’s important that you remember that everyone at the event, from presenters to other students, is in the same boat as you. They want to make connections and learn more about different opportunities, just like you do.
The best way to counteract any nerves is to simply act with confidence. Walk into the event with your head held high and make an effort to talk to as many people as possible. The first conversation at an event can feel the most daunting, so we recommend jumping straight in at the first stand that interests you.
Professionals who are on trade stands are very friendly and good at answering questions you might have. However, at the end of the day you will need to approach them and initiate the conversation. You can do it!
5. Speak to everyone you can
One of the best networking event tips for students that we can give is to talk to as many people as possible! Not only does this give you a better chance of making a connection, but it also means you’ll gain a greater variety of information and perspectives. Ultimately, the more people you speak to the more likely you are to find someone who can help you achieve your goals.
We understand that some students might feel more comfortable speaking to someone they know, such as a friend or family member. However, try to step out of your comfort zone and approach someone new; you never know who you might meet.
6. Dress the part
You might be tempted to dress down for a networking event, especially if it’s being held at a casual venue like a bar or cafe. However, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and dress as though you’re going for a job interview.
This doesn’t mean that you need to wear a full suit or anything too formal, but smart-casual clothing is always a good option. It shows that you’re taking the event seriously and puts you in the right frame of mind to network confidently.
7. Follow up after the event
Networking doesn’t stop once the event is over! Once you’ve made some great connections at the event, it’s important that you follow up afterwards. This shows that you’re interested in continuing the conversation and could potentially lead to further opportunities down the line.
Once you’ve spoken to someone at an event, make sure you follow up with them afterwards. There are a few different ways you can follow up, such as sending them an email, connecting with them on LinkedIn or even meeting up with them for coffee.
Whichever method you choose, make sure you do it within a few days of the event. This will ensure that your conversation is still fresh in their mind and that they remember who you are.
We hope you found these networking event tips for students helpful. If you’re looking for more advice on how to make the most of your time at university, be sure to check out our blog. We’ve got plenty of great articles with useful tips and advice, so you’re sure to find something that will speed up your dream career search.