Get Hired, our flagship spring careers fair, is back! Taking place on Wednesday 3 May, from 12:30 pm to 4 pm at Bristol Beacon, it’s a great opportunity to network with a variety of employers.
But how do you network effectively? We chatted with James Darley, CEO of Transform Society, to get his networking top tips.
“It’s critical that you get the most out of this unique opportunity to meet employers face-to-face and build your professional network, but often students worry about these events and don’t know how to get the most out of them.
As part of the ‘Prepare to get hired’ event series (aiming to help you get the most out of Get Hired), I will be hosting a skill session based on professional networking where I’ll discuss what professional networking is, why you need to do it and how to do it.
You can sign up for my session, and explore other sessions in the series, by going to events on mycareer and selecting the ‘Get Hired’ filter.
To help you get the most value from what can be a busy, and emotionally draining, experience here are my top networking tips:
Spend a little bit of time looking through the list of employers before the event so you understand what they do and what they offer. Be open, and visit brands you have never heard of, as the whole point of a careers fair is to be inspired by opportunities you have never considered before and meeting employers you know you want to work for.
Plan your visit
You might think this is not necessary but if you know in advance who you want to talk to, it’s much more likely that you will talk to them! If you don’t have a plan, it’s too easy to just keep on walking and leave without really getting what you wanted to get out of the event. Create a list and tick off the employers as you speak to them and don’t leave without ticking them all.
Have questions ready
…and make them relevant and respectable. Great candidates ask interesting questions, and you will get noticed if you do. Asking about flexible working, pay and international opportunities are probably not right at a career fair, but questions where you get a feel for the culture, what the role actually is and maybe what training and support you will receive shows you really are interested in making an informed decision about whether to apply.
Another key reason employers come to careers fairs is to meet you, and start to build a professional connection with you, so don’t be afraid to ask for a business card/ask if you can LinkedIn with them. The best candidates are often able to mention someone they have met in their application so this event is a great way to build a connection with someone who works at the organisation you are interested in.
After the careers fair take a bit of time to reflect on who you met, and who you might want to work for in the future. If you received a business card then email the representative you met and thank them for their time, if they agreed to be connected on LinkedIn then link into them and say “Inspired by what you do, would love to be connected”. You might feel uncomfortable but this is the way we network in the professional world so you need to start doing it 😊
Finally, enjoy yourself, be inquisitive, be interested and be respectful, if you do that, I assure you will come away with an extended list of professional connections you didn’t have before the event.”