The ABC's of networking

Cody Bair

Are you required or is it vital that you attend various networking events in order to attain the job you want out of college. Have you ever stressed out and worried for hours about how to navigate and fully participate in said busy events as a blind individual. If so, please read on for tips on how to make the most of such events. As an accounting major, I have participated in dozens of networking events and although at the beginning of my college career I was extremely intimidated by them, I have learned to enjoy such events. Consequently, I hope these five tips mitigate your stress level and make you excited to be a part of such events.

###1. Plan Ahead

Before going to a networking event, it is crucial to plan ahead. If there is a list of prospective employers who will be their or a map detailing the lay out of the room. It is vital that you prioritize who you want to talk to and attempt to go in that order as you will often be crunched for time. Also, conduct research about the companies whom you are interested in, so you can ask educated questions. If a map of the lay out of the room exists and is available to you before the event, it would be extremely helpful to have someone explain to you where the companies you want to visit will be located in the room so you can find them more efficiently.

###2. Come Organized

Some networking events require you to have copies of your resume or business cards available to give to prospective employers. While this may sound tremendously easy, it can get tricky when you want to Taylor your resume to a certain employer or group of employers. One basic example of this of which is placing the employer’s name in the objective line of the resume. As you can imagine nothing could be more embarrassing than giving the wrong resume to a potential employer.
Therefore, it is extremely important to organize your portfolio. One way in which this can be done is to braille the potential employer’s name on one of the corners of the resume paper. While this can be effective it is imperative to have someone give it a look over after brailing on the paper to ensure the braille does not adversely affect the print. Therefore, I prefer to braille the name of each employer on an index card, paper clip the index card to the resume and then remove the paper clip and index card before giving the resume to the prospective employer.

###3. Navigating the Event

It is critical that you can effectively navigate a networking event as this will send the message to prospective employer’s that you are confident in yourself. Although networking events can be crowded and a little overbearing at times, they are not impossible to effectively navigate by yourself. Although I’ve gotten confused as to where I’m at in the room numerous times, I have found that people have always been willing to provide me with directions on where I want to go. After all the purpose of said events is networking, so asking people for directions should be viewed as an excellent opportunity to meet and engage in conversation with people you wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.

###4. Managing Business Cards

Often times after networking events you will come home with a massive stack of business cards. Due to the fast-pace of networking events I have found it impossible to keep the pile of business cards organized while at the event. Consequently, upon returning home I place the cards on a scanner one at a time and scan them using Kurzweil 1,000. While scanning said business cards I create a spread sheet which lists each person’s name, position, company, phone number and email address.
If scanning the cards is too much of a timely process for your liking, you could also complete the same process through the use of a human reader. If you decide to go this route it is important that you do this the next day as following up with individuals whom you meet at networking events in a timely manner is often crucial. Therefore, while it may be faster to obtain such contact information through the use of a human reader, I prefer to spend the time scanning it immediately after I arrive home as this allows me to send “thank you” emails on the same night.

###5. Following Up

The most important part of a networking event is to follow up with the people whom you meet and are interested in seeking employment with, to thank them for the time they spent talking with you at the event. While there is a myth that hand written thank you notes are preferable, I have always found it preferable to simply type up a well-written email. I believe this method preferable as the note reaches its recipient the instant you send it, thus they will read it while you are still fresh in their mind.

If you follow these networking tips, they should change your fear of networking events in to an excitement for networking events. Also, they will play an intricate role in you attaining the career of your dreams which will allow you to live the life you want.