Making Networking Work

On Monday, September 7th, a representative from Elon’s Career Services Department, Amber McCraw, held a Professional Development seminar in my Senior Capstone course. In her lecture, Amber uncovered many tips for internship/job seekers that turn the uncomfortable awkwardness of a first meeting into a fun and engaging conversation that will leave company representatives with stand-out memories.

Amber talked us through a list of questions that inspire great conversation in a networking email, at an event, or even just out for coffee/lunch. Examples of these questions are:

  • What are some trends in the industry that you are interested in?
  • What resources do you consult for current news?
  • What classes from your undergraduate education do you find yourself applying on the job?
  • What is your least favorite part of the day?
  • When did you know this was the field for you

These questions are intended to start conversation between you and your potential employer, giving you insight to what they do while also allowing you to share some personal facts as well. After an in-person networking session, Amber keyed in on the importance of maintaining contacts – and not just to ask for something. She discussed the necessity of following up with your entire professional network while searching for a job, and checking in just to update them on where you stand instead of asking for a recommendation or a job. A little courtesy will go a long way in the job hunt!

At the end of her seminar, Amber explained to us that hiring representatives are not looking to just hear you rattle off your résumé and perfect elevator pitch. Whether they realize it or not, they are looking for a subconscious “click” between you and the company they represent – something that shows how you as a person jive seamlessly with their employee culture. If the networking is awkward that is a lesson in itself – the company or position may not be the one for you.


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