Need Job Fair Networking Tips?

Posted by on October 9, 2012

Employers usually pay money to be at job fairs to find quality candidates for their open positions. However, employers commonly find themselves asking where all of the people are—especially students.

Minnesota School of Business’s Elk River Accounting Program Chair, Renee Malenowski, attended the Accounting and Auditing Student Conference this past week and said the conference was no different.

“I was surprised by the lack of student attendance at the event,” said Malenowski.  “Employers were at the conference to collect students’ resumes and conduct interviews. What more could you ask for?”

Well, if you are asking for more – you got it. Employers at the conference also offered resume critiquing, mock interviews and break-out sessions geared toward helping students polish their technical and soft skills so they can grab the job of their dreams.

Even with all of that, only a handful of Minnesota School of Business students attended the conference—and it isn’t an epidemic with just Minnesota School of Business students. It’s all college-aged students.   

So why in a room full of hiring managers are students non-existent?

It all boils down to networking. With the emergence of social media and smartphones, younger generations don’t develop the social skills necessary to walk up to a stranger and introduce themselves.

Let’s be honest. Growing up, we are taught, “stranger equals danger.” At what point as adults are we taught that it’s okay to walk up to strangers and “sell” ourselves to them?

For many, something in our past clicks or it’s our extrovert personalities and we can easily transition into talking about ourselves to strangers. However, for others, this transition isn’t as easy and it makes networking for a job very hard.

For those of you who need a toolbox of tips to make the transition to networking, here you go:

  1. Prepare and practice a 60 second elevator speech – Google “elevator speech” for guidelines
  2. Research who will be at the networking event so that you have something to talk to them about
  3. Have a goal in mind – maybe for the first time you just introduce yourself to 3 new people
  4. Break mental barriers – Common barriers include: “I have nothing interesting to say,” “I’m bugging people by talking to them,” “I won’t get anything out of this.” 
  5. Remember to do some listening too – you don’t have to do all of the talking
  6. Lastly, bring business cards!

These tips can be applied to any networking event, but especially apply to job fairs.

 According to Minnesota School of Business – Elk River student Lysa Miller you just need to prepare.

“Being as prepared as I was made me feel confident,” said Miller, who attended the accounting conference. “I know that if I prepare and set my mind to the task, anything is possible and I can reach my goals.”

Both Malenowski and Miller said they strongly recommend this accounting conference for students, along with any job fair opportunity. 

Happy networking!


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