Let me preface this post by stating that I do, in fact, enjoy networking sessions. Networking is great! You’re given the chance to learn more about the opportunities a company has and, most importantly, it gives you a gauge of the company’s culture. I’m a huge believer in finding your fit and networking sessions are the best way to do that.
However, I have grown to despise networking sessions because of, well…my peers. Most of them turn into job-hungry, inconsiderate, chatty monsters. The problem I see with this is that some recruiters actually like that. They like the schmooze and the hustle students put into impressing them at the expense of others.
Due to the inauthenticity of the whole thing, I took a break from attending networking sessions. That was until now: September of my fourth year when recruitment season is in full swing. Everyone, including me, is job-hungry. I recently made it to the fourth step of an eight step process for a really awesome company with an amazing grad program that I could see myself doing. I was (and currently still am) waiting for a response from the recruiter. Although I was dreading the idea, I decided to go to a networking session at their office downtown, my very first networking session in a long while. I mean, if I saw myself working in that company, I should at least know what my desk would look like!
The event was great! It was a very intimate setting because only about thirty students were invited and there were eight employees to talk to – an excellent ratio. Sadly, not all was well. We were split into groups for a “speed networking” round where recruiters would rotate amongst groups and we were given about three minutes to talk. I thought I was in a good group because there were only three of us to a recruiter, giving us all plenty of time to talk. Unfortunately, one group member turned out to be the kind of networker that I hated. He had a ton of energy, which I greatly admired, but his problem was that he just kept talking even though he was cognizant of the time constraints. I managed to make a few comments here and there, but the other student in our group wasn’t given any such chances. Even my attempts at cutting myself short to give the last student the time to speak was useless because he ended up being cut off by the time limit. Even the employees barely had any time to talk! It was so frustrating because I went to the event to hear from the employees and hear about how they like their jobs, not to hear this person regurgitate his resume.
I’m just glad that recruiters can sniff out people like this who don’t understand the cardinal rule of networking: learn to share! Although you want to put yourself in a positive light, giving others the opportunity to speak and sharing the floor shows that you are a team player. After the speed networking round, there was a free-for-all networking session. As opposed to meeting the other employees that I didn’t get the chance to speak with during speed networking, I approached every single one of the employees I already met and talked to them again. Some may call this a stupid move, others may applaud me, but I just wanted to make sure that I had the opportunity to build a relationship with these people. After all, it’s better to be someone than just another +1, right!
[Another networking tip:
Although I wouldn’t consider myself a master of networking by any means, I constantly see other students make careless networking mistakes. I distinctly remember going to an accounting networking session in my first year (hey, I was trying to keep my options open) and seeing a massive circle of students huddled around the main recruiter. Although he was a fun and enthusiastic man with a lot of anecdotes, I really didn’t understand how any actual networking could be done. There were at least seven other employees, although not recruiters, standing around doing nothing. I opted to talk to these people instead. I learned a lot more about the company, the kind of people they hire, their recruitment process and, most importantly, tips on how to get hired from just striking up casual conversations with these people.]