Making the most of events
Remember, if you are attending an event which is not directly careers/jobs themed, it may not be a good idea to ask everyone you meet for a job or internship! Networking takes time and is a two-way process.
Offer to help …
When you meet someone, ask what they do. Do they need help? You could suggest offering free admin help during the holidays. Even if they don’t take up your offer, you will be remembered for offering support, and may be the person they recommend to a colleague in the future.
Ask a great question during Q&A sessions
Most conferences and lectures will include an interactive audience session. It can be a daunting prospect but asking a really good question helps you stand out, and after the Q&A other delegates will likely come and talk to you.
People may not be able to offer you a job, but they may be very happy to offer you advice and support. Asking for mentoring help can result in a more productive response than simply asking for work. And ‘reverse’ mentoring is an increasingly popular concept, where less experienced people who may have, for example, better IT skills, understanding of young people or diversity and inclusion issues, can often provide useful advice to experienced professionals – another way you can offer support.
‘Breaking the ice’
Before you attend an event, especially if it’s your first, plan in advance an interesting conversation opener. This doesn’t have to be an insightful analysis of the aerospace sector. You could talk about the weather that day (if you are in the UK it’s likely to be too cold/rainy/dry etc.), a neutral base from which to break the ice with strangers!
Take a friend
Networking is much easier when you are with someone you know. If possible, bring a companion, especially if you have a friend or colleague who is confident in these types of situations.
Practice makes perfect
Your first event may be daunting, and perhaps you leave without having spoken to anyone. Don’t panic! This is very common, even the most confident people can find networking situations intimidating. Keep attending, it may take a few tries but eventually you will become a familiar face.
Someone like you
Networking is not just about making friends, although that will happen along the way. Be prepared to speak to people of all ages and all roles, not just in your own specialist area. You may be surprised who/what they know and how they can help you.