Okay, okay—I know I can’t stay away from this topic. But like most of my fellow second-year MPA-ers will tell you, it’s sorta hard not to think about.
This week, my fellow bloggers and I will be talking about different aspects of the job search process, from developing a competitive resume to interviewing skills and more. My focus today is on the importance of networking.
Networking exists outside of the internet realm, as difficult as that may be to understand sometimes. We discussed in depth last week about the importance of having a professional and up to date online presence, but you can’t limit yourself to existing solely online—you still have to go out and meet people.
Personally, I have seen the perks of going out and meeting people in a professional setting—between going to conferences and handing out business cards like they are candy, to setting up appointments with OU alumni to get advice and direction, networking has been one of my most valuable skills that I have developed over the past year. My last spring break was spent in D.C. networking and this coming break will be spent in the same way.
But don’t take it just from me (though, I’m a very reliable source—promise). Here are a few tips on networking in person to keep in mind when you decide to take your professional online presence into the real world:
- Be prepared: Have an elevator speech about your experience and what you do prepared, because you will be asked. Make sure you have up-to-date business cards that leverage your online presence (aka- the URL to your LinkedIn account to follow up afterwards).
- First impressions are important, so make it count!: You only get one first impression—be sure you are wearing appropriate attire, stand straight, smile, be sincere and be confident. People are more likely to approach you when you look like you want to be there!
- Don’t be afraid to approach people: Ask people you know at event to introduce you to others and, if you know that someone would be important to connect with, introduce yourself. If you are a wallflower for the whole event, it won’t benefit you, so why even bother?
- Have a goal: Why are you networking? Further exposure to professionals in your field? Career transition? Looking for an entry level job? Know why you are networking, and tailor your actions, elevator pitch, and contacts to that goal. However, don’t use this time to openly solicit for a job—it’s a reality, but also a put-off to those that you meet.
I hope this helps you all in your job search. Happy Week 8!