Late Monday, I finally decided to attend a school‑hosted networking event on my own.
Just like a lot of students, I am looking to land a job in my field. One way to make yourself stand out is by networking. Unfortunately for me, when I wanted to attend a certain event hosted by a certain accounting firm I was interested in, all my friends ended up busy or uninterested. Without my friends by my side, it can be hard for me to navigate a room full of strangers or to start a conversation with recruiters. Nevertheless, I decided to push myself to attend this event anyway… and I learnt some things that I thought would be useful to other students who are going to be in the same position as me.
Here are three tips that I strongly recommend for navigating a networking event solo.
Do your research.
If you have a few questions in mind heading into the event then it will make things a little easier when you are striking up a conversation with a potential recruiter. Moreover, if you know a specific company or person that will be there, be sure to research the company so you can demonstrate your interest to them. Taking initiative to do some research will ensure that you are putting your best foot forward. And if you are having a one-on-one conversation then having done the research prior will give you a larger variety of subjects to talk about since you may not have a friend beside you to add their thoughts.
Approach someone who is alone.
An amazing way to become more comfortable in your surroundings at an event is to find someone who is in the same position as you. They are looking to make connections, so don’t hesitate to go up to them and introduce yourself: give them your name, your current field of study and your purpose for being at this event. After that, they will introduce themselves and from there, you can ask them a follow-up question. You can listen for little things that you have in common with them and they might even share extra knowledge about the companies at this event that you didn’t know before. If you go into an event where you are alone, talking to a fellow student that you don’t already know will help you warm up to the idea about walking up to the professionals at this event.
Just remember to be yourself. Though these events can be intimidating if you are not surrounded with familiar faces, they present an opportunity to branch out and meet people you probably wouldn’t have met if you weren’t there alone. Speak with confidence, and be authentic.
Remember to relax: odds are there are many people at this event in your position and they are looking to make meaningful connections too. When it comes down to it, we are all unique students with diverse skill sets looking to find a job to flourish in, and networking events are a useful tool even if you are attending alone.