Get a knack for networking
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Ruby Lin and Christina Buiza, leaders of the Simon Fraser University chapter of AIESEC, the world's largest student-run organization, provide these tips for your next networking event.
Prepare, prepare and prepare some more
Lin stresses the importance of research before an event. Part of this is having a clear idea of your priorities.
"Have an idea of who's going, what they're looking for and how you fit into that picture."
If you're not sure what the dress code is, go with business formal. Lin also advises students to look good but be comfortable at the same time.
Wear shoes that will not hurt your feet and make sure you're well-groomed.
Be interested, ask questions
One of the reasons why networking intimidates students is because they don't know what to talk about.
Buiza recommends preparing a handful of topics, such as asking the person what they thought of the speaker's talk at the event you're attending.
People are eager to talk about themselves, so ask questions about their company or profession and take a genuine interest in their story.
As a backup, Buiza says she advocates reading the news on the day of the event.
Take a quick scan of the sports, business and politics sections.
Of course, make sure you bring your business cards. Always offer your business cards and never hesitate to ask for them from others.
One crucial step that students often forget is to follow up. "Have a notebook and pen with you at all times. After the person you just talked you is out of sight, quickly jot down the details the person gave you," Lin says.
You can then use this information to personalize your follow up.
So, when should you follow up?
It depends on the rapport you've built. It can be as soon as the day after, but be sure to let the person know you're going to follow up.
Hone your skills
Becoming great at networking won't happen overnight.
Continue to do research and practice by attending school events to get better at it. Sites such as Meetup.com also offer many less formal alternatives.
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