Career Fairs: The Perfect Landscape for Networking
Why attend a veterans’ career fair if you already have a job? Career fairs provide a perfect forum for networking, whether you’re actively seeking employment or not. They also deliver direct access to the first point of contact for a company’s hiring team.
What is networking?
A network is an extended group of people who have formed mutually beneficial relationships to help and support to each other over time. And it’s an opportunity for exponential growth: each connection could potentially link you to a legion of partners who can keep an eye out for opportunities for you, and you can do the same for them.
Networking is like building a structure: you must start with a firm foundation that gets added to over time. Having conversations at a career fair is the perfect place to start pouring the concrete.
Nervous? Practice dealing with it
A career fair is the perfect place to thrust yourself into a situation that many find uncomfortable. By but forcing yourself into these scenarios, you will realize that nervousness is a temporary condition that can be managed, and that you are ultimately in control of it.
Have a certain number of solid conversations at each career fair you attend. If you’re standing in line, make friends with those around you, and find out what fields interest them. Aim for meaningful talks, not just elevator pitches. Listen to the needs of others, and don’t interrupt.
If you do make a connection, it’s important to follow up before the trail goes cold. Before you leave an event, make sure you have the business cards and contact information for the people you want to stay in touch with. Make a note of what you discussed with them. Then, connect with them again via email, or even better, in a handwritten thank you note, wherein you mentioned what you discussed.
After you’ve reached out initially, keep looking for genuine opportunities to connect. Did you see an article that may be of interest to them? Send it over. Is there an opportunity for them to present information to a group in their industry? Pass it on.
Be prepared to network whether you’re looking or not. That means keeping your resume sharp and updated with your latest jobs and accomplishments. Stay open to new opportunities, and always be ready to add to your network.