Story by Annika Grassl
Professional networking events and career fairs are ways to expand professional networks and make lasting connections for the future.
First impressions are an importantant part of networking events. Dressing appropriate and acting professional are known to be important concepts.
“The business school gives a class on Fridays held by Dean Randall Blum, which helps prepare students to successfully conduct themselves in professional situations,” said Kelly Knauf, a first-year international business and marketing major.
Annette Watson, a career development manager at Drake University, encouraged students to seek advice from their professors.
“Professors are willing to help with anything you would like help with to be your best in professional settings,” Watson said.
Professors Debra Bishop and Guclu Atinc offered insight to Drake students.
“It is important to do your homework and come to events dressed appropriately so you don’t stick out in a negative way,” Bishop said.
“It helps to come with a few questions prepared to ask a specific company,” Atinc said.
He said it’s important to have a little background knowledge about the company and the work that it does.
Bishop added that it is important to seek out people with common interests, people who can become mentors and peers who will provide future connections.
Bishop stressed that these connections are not made in a few minutes.
She said it is a good idea to hand the person you are talking to a business card and ask if you could contact him or her in the future.
Networking can be a challenge.
“Since networking events are not my favorite, I look for people who don’t seem to be surrounded by a crowd because big circles can be awkward and hard to enter, “ Bishop said. “Sometimes, smaller groups of one or two are better since it is easier to engage them in a conversation with the questions you have prepared.”
Professor Natalie Adkins encouraged students to be themselves when networking.
“It is important to be comfortable with who you are. If you go in trying to be someone you aren’t, you will make a mistake, Adkins said. “If you are honest and authentic to yourself, then employers can sense that.”
Adkins added that it is important to be actively engaged in conversations and not to constantly check your phone.
“You are trying to market yourself, so present yourself in the best light possible,” Adkins said. “Networking is about conversations. You want to walk away from the conversation excited and having the other person glad they met you.”
Adkins said students shouldn’t be afraid to be passionate and express what they care about.
“It is important to bring business cards, an updated resume, a cover letter and a smile and a firm handshake with you to all professional networking events,” Atinc said.