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6 Job Networking Tips for New Grads

New Grad LifeThis post was contributed by New Grad Life, a website dedicated to providing free resources to recent college graduates or soon-to-be grads for job hunting, resume and interview help, networking tips, money management, and more.

Job networking events are often intimidating for college students and graduates. But they don't have to be! These job seekers can use networking events to meet prospective employers and show them what they can do as employees.

The key to succeeding at a networking event is to know what to say to company representatives and how to say it. Here are six networking tips for new or recent grads:

1. Show passion for the industry and company.

New grads normally don't have much relevant work experience, but they can impress potential employers by demonstrating a passion for the company and its industry. The following are crucial pieces of information college grads should research to impress employers:

         a) The top 3 companies in the industry (It's always helpful to know the
             competitors)
         b) The company's strengths and weaknesses
         c) The company's vision and values
         d) Industry trends (social, economic, etc.)

2. Show interest in the person you're talking to.

Company representatives respect sincerity and will open up as job seekers ask questions. Most people are happy to talk about themselves (such as what they do for a living and how they got involved with the company), so college grads should show genuine interest in the person they're speaking with. Listen attentively and ask follow-up questions; in other words, aim for a real conversation.

3. Brand yourself with an "elevator speech."

Create a brief 30-second speech to project a personal brand that sets you apart from other recent graduates who are seeking the same kind of job. If you haven't had a corporate job yet, it will be hard to come up with a title for yourself, so focus on your skills and recent experience.

4. Be clear about your short-term and long-term career goals.

It's very important for entry-level job seekers to know the field and industry they want to get into. A good formula for articulating your career goals is to state the position you're looking for, your skills, and the qualities you look for in a company. An example would be:

"I'm interested in a marketing coordinator position, because I can immediately use my creativity and communications skills to assist the team, while getting exposure to a wider range of marketing initiatives that will prepare me to make even greater contributions down the road."

5. Don't ask for a job; they'll ask you.

Your ultimate goal in attending networking events as a recent college grad may be to get a job, but you should never flat-out ask someone to offer you one. Instead, asking questions about the employer, showing knowledge about the industry and company, and talking about personal skills and qualifications will yield the best results. After that, ask for advice on how to break into the industry. Most people will be kind enough to offer insightful advice. But company reps who like you and believe there could be a job for you somewhere in the firm may even offer to be your referral.

6. Networking is a two-way street; show how you can help them.

Job seekers who research prospective employers not only discover company weaknesses, but may also find opportunities they're failing to realize. If a company is not heavily involved with social media, needs a fresh idea to reach a new target market, or has other problems, think of potential solutions you can offer during the networking event. Giving free advice to employers solidifies your image as a strong applicant and makes you look less like someone who's just out to get a job without bothering to help others in return.

How have networking events helped you? Do you have other advice to offer recent college graduates or current college seniors? Share it with us.

RELATED LINKS

First Impressions Mean Everything in Your Job Search
Don't Go It Alone in Your Job Search
Networking Plays a Critical Role in Your Job Search
What the Heck is 'Networking' and How Do I Do It?

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