Networking at Industry Careers Fairs
Networking events differ depending on their speciality – some events are general, others are chats over canapés, and others are specific to an industry. Knowing how to stand out from the crowd can be tricky, so we’ve compiled a small list of things you can do to prepare for your next industry careers fair!
Prepare an elevator pitch
A great technique for any fair, an elevator pitch is a short (as in a minute or less) summary of what work you’re interested in, what you’re studying, and what your career goals are. This might sound a little intense for what is essentially a first introduction, but the trick is to keep things conversational and natural. Practice beforehand so that when you do give your elevator pitch, you can focus on being engaging rather than on what you’re going to say.
To structure your pitch, it’s a good idea to start with an introduction – say who you are and what you’re studying. You can then go on to very briefly mention your experience so far, what area you’re interested in working in, and where you would like to work. Remember this is a conversation, so be prepared to interrupt your pitch to answer questions! If you can, tailor your pitch to the company you’re talking to, particularly if you have a preference for that organisation. Mentioning something they’re working on is a good way to help you stand out!
If the industry you’re planning to work in involves a lot of technical lingo, it may be a good idea to stick to common terms or phrases unless whoever you’re talking to mentions something more technical. At these events, many of the corporations present have various departments and it is possible that the representative at the fair may not work in the department or field you want to specialise in.
Wear work appropriate clothing
Careers fairs often pose a dilemma in terms of dress code – you’re meeting with employers so you want to make a good impression, but you might not have the money to lash out and buy a new suit for the occasion. You’ll want to go for business attire, or smart casual; regardless of what you wear make sure it is clean and ironed. It’s also a good idea to put some time aside to ensure your personal hygiene is in order before you enter the fair: you don’t want the main thing potential employers remember about you being coffee-breath!
Even though some industries are typically more casual than others, it is still a good idea to put an effort in to what you’re wearing at these types of events. How you present yourself isn’t everything, but it can impact how other people perceive you upon first meeting. By dressing more formally than what may usually be required, you are showing that you’re enthusiastic and take these opportunities seriously.
Figure out who you might want to work with
Set aside some time before the fair to look over what companies will be there, and identify who you might want to work with in the future. Once you’ve identified a few organisations you might be interested in, do you’re research! Have a look at their websites and see if you can find what they’re working on – are they moving towards incorporating new systems or ways of operating? Are they expanding a division or looking to specialise in a new field? Are they undertaking a new project or trialling a new technology? Sometimes larger companies may have news articles released detailing any new business plans, so it may be worth Googling them as well.
If you’ve got the time, it could also be a good idea to have a look online at any new advances or changes in your industry as a whole. Having a good understanding of where your industry is heading in the future is not only a good conversation starter, but can also help you look out for companies that are heading towards methods or technologies that could inspire expansion into new fields. Identifying where an opportunity could crop up is a clever strategy that could help you narrow down potential employers you wish to talk to at the fair.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels
By Mia Casey