Successfully Networking at Career Events

People visiting booths at Aalto Talent Expo

Networking is crucial in modern working life for job opportunities.

Networking at Aalto University is made easy through career events. Last month in November, there was a Aalto Talent Expo where there were 100s of employers present. Students got to meet recruiters and other professionals, introduce themselves and express their skills, hobbies and interests in a casual environment with like-minded people.

I met several companies such as Zalando, CGI, Telia, EY and VR. I engaged as much as I could with the HRs and employees of the companies. My personal strategy since I am into HR and learning and development (L&D) was to ask the company's two questions: a) How have you implemented L&D strategies at your company? b) What kind of referral program do you have at your company?

Here are five tips that I wanted to share for any career networking events.

Be yourself

Tip 1: The most important advice is not to become shy or awkward; rather be yourself in a very natural way so that others can easily see your personality through your actions as well as hear it through your speech. Of course, if you are introverted then it is nice to go a little outside your comfort zone and initiate conversation with the representatives of the company. The easiest thing you can say is, "Hi there, how is it going? I was interested to know more about your company." For bonus points, it is even better if you have personalised questions prepared in advance for the HR or employee specialist.

Envision positive situations

Tip 2: Feel positive to induce positive behaviour. I know this is a lot simply said than done. However, visualise how you want the encounter to take place and then make it happen. For example, I envision talking to the representative, telling about myself and asking more information about their company. Now, you will probably do this in 10 seconds but then take a deep breath and then act upon this. You do not want to think about "what if..". Therefore be brave and go introduce yourself to the company.

Prepare paper resumes

Tip 3: Have several copies of your resume for distribution. Lots of students seemed to overlook this tactic. I understand that the network seems causal with merchandise and drinks present, but if you want to stand out this tip will help you do that. I can say with confidence that not a lot of people will expect paper resumes from students. This will make you look professional, tidy and ready for an introduction. For the cherry on top, connect with the people whom you talk to on LinkedIn with the promise of messaging them 1-2 days after the event.

Take a friend with you

Tip 4: Socialising and networking can feel lonely alone. So, take along a friend or two. This will make it easier for you to break ice with company representatives. You will also not have a boring time and discuss company vibes and prospectives with your friends. Also, I found it impossible to cover all the companies, therefore with a friend you can both cover half the ground and tell each other about the experiences.

Make it a habit

Tip 5: The last tip is to get better at networking is to make it a habit. Even though networking is a part of our everyday lives, we can still improve and develop our relationships through it. Looking for new events organised by AYY or by your association is the way forward. Go to Facebook and push notifications for AYY events since they are very open for international as well local students.

Thanks for reading this far, and keep an eye for networking opportunities! Check out Aalto's very own career lab.

- Areeb

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