With networking, everyone is meeting a ton of people all the time, and it can be difficult to be heard amongst all the “noise.” One of the greatest ways to stand out is to mention something in your conversation that clearly indicates you’ve invested the time to look into their background and/or company.
We call this doing your homework.
Many times you know in advance who, or at least which companies, you’ll be able to meet at an event.
It would be foolish not to look up some details about those individuals or companies prior to attending the event. Without that information, the best conversation you could hope for is one of pleasantries and basic questions – aka: the same old, same old, which will only make you blend into the crowd, becoming part of the “noise.” Alternatively, if you do a little digging beforehand, you can have a real conversation, one that doesn’t feel canned or obligatory, but rather one that is a genuine conversation. This is more likely to stick with the person than the typical formalities of a meet-and-greet encounter.
The good news is that doing your homework doesn’t have to entail very much. Often times a quick Google search will lead you to LinkedIn profiles or company webpages that will highlight something that you can use in your meeting. For example:
- Did you find that you both went to the same school? Mention it!
- Do they work (or used to work) with someone you know? Even tangentially? Bring it up!
- Maybe you discovered that you share hobbies or common interests (i.e. hiking, running, tennis, etc.).
- Do they advocate for a charity that is also close to you? Say so!
- Heck, maybe they coach a little league team, and your nephew, son, or friend’s son plays in a similar league – tell them you admire their patience to manage 25-30 really excited kids every Saturday morning!
These types of distinct details, which have nothing to do with the job at hand, will stick out much more than a conversation about their job and/or company – because that’s the conversation that everyone is having with them, and it all sounds exactly the same.
Your goal should be to have a unique conversation that no one else will have.
So be sure to do your homework and find some details about the person. Even if you are not anticipating meeting the CEO of the company – say there is a company representative present at table or booth at an event – treat them as you would the CEO. Not only do company reps deserve the same respect that you would give the CEO, but often times the representatives are also the company’s recruiters who can put you in touch with the right person, so don’t brush them off. Of course, it will be difficult to come prepared with a few personal details about them if you’re meeting a representative, but this is when you should focus on the company itself.
- What is the mission of the company?
- What was their most recent accomplishment?
- Were they mentioned in a recent news article?
- Are they supporters of certain charities?
- Have they hosted any events lately?
These are things that will show the recruiter/representative that you are indeed truly interested in the company, and you will stand out above others who simply walk up to the table and ask very broad and basic questions. If you maintain a good relationship with the rep, you may be able to get in touch with someone more senior at the firm.
Basically, you want to learn as much as possible about the companies and the people you are hoping to network with, so that you can convey genuine interest. So… do your homework!
We challenge you to start now!
In two days, the CNSPY is hosting its third Annual Networking Event, for which we’re bringing in nearly 20 professionals in a wide variety of careers to interact with students and postdocs over dinner and drinks. Many of their bios are provided right here on our website: http://cnspy.commons.yale.edu/attending-career-mentors/
We’ve done some of the legwork for you and brought you details about many of the career mentors who will graciously be in attendance to help students and postdocs at Yale learn more about their career choices. Now it’s up to you to not only read our write-ups about them, but also dig deeper. Find that personal connection that ties you to your potential network connection so that you will have a truly unique conversation – one that no one else at the event will have. Stand out! And find your next career move at the Annual Networking Event!
Here’s the official blurb for the event:
“Exploring your career options as a PhD? The Career Network for student Scientists and Post-docs at Yale (CNSPY) is bringing you its third Annual Networking Event.
Come interact with career mentors from various fields including Medical Writing, Pharma, Biotech, Science Policy, Consulting, and Academia, and get a chance to meet the CNSPY leadership team. You’ll also learn about ongoing and upcoming initiatives from the CNSPY and our sponsor, the Center for Scientific Teaching.
All Yale graduate students and postdocs are welcome. This event is co-sponsored by the Yale Center for Scientific Teaching, Graduate and Professional Student Senate, Asian Network at Yale, and the Graduate Student Life @ McDougal Center. This is an event not to be missed! Dinner will be provided.”
When: Friday, October 24th 2014 at 6pm
Where: Cohen Auditorium (230 South Frontage Road)
Dress code: Business/Casual
RSVP by Monday October 20th 2014 at http://cnspy.commons.yale.edu/events/cnspy-annual-networking-event/
Direct inquires to firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll See You There!!!
** Do your homework, come to the event, and tell us how it goes! **
Share your thoughts below by clicking the “Leave a Reply” link or by clicking the chat bubble in the top right of the post.