How to Network at a Career Fair and Keep the Conversation Going

Networking. It can be extremely terrifying and nerve-wracking to some. The thought of walking up to a stranger and attempting to make a connection can be utterly stomach turning. Although networking can be distressing, it is an extremely important aspect in everyone’s professional career and career development.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. In a world where everything is moving so fast and with the invention of the internet, it is extremely important to build face-to-face relationships and network. Networking allows business professionals to put a face to a name and serves as an effective way to learn about various career options and gather advice for achieving your goals.

Networking tips, Globe University, career fair

Globe University team members staffed the booth and networked with local businesses around the community. From left, Alexandra Randall, Samuel Fisher and Carlos Garcia.

If any college students understand the importance of building relationships within the community, it’s the students at Globe University-Eau Claire. On Tuesday, Oct. 15, a group of students attended the Eau Claire Business Expo and Job Fair to practice their networking skills and connect with local businesses about potential job opportunities.

This networking supplemented a core skill that students were learning about in their Professional Development class. This class aids in the preparation of soon-to-be graduates and reinforces career readiness topics such as resumes, cover letters, interviewing, and networking. The class is just one example of the commitment Globe University makes to help graduates succeed in the competitive workforce.

The Eau Clare Area Chamber of Commerce holds the Eau Claire Business Expo each year in October, and this year alone drew more than 135 participants. The Business Expo served as a two-fold event: a job fair during the day, allowing members of the Chippewa Valley to network and share their resume with businesses hiring around the area, and a VIP event after hours for business members in the community.

Globe University’s booth was staffed by the Career Services team, Samuel Fisher and Alexandra Randall, along with academic program chairs Carlos Garcia (information technology), Gretchen Johnson (medical assistant & medical administrative assistant), and Laurie Mumm (veterinary technology).

Why is networking important?

Networking plays a vital role in helping to achieve your professional goals. By networking, you build relationships with others in the community which helps you grow within your career. Just ask Sarah Ziegler, a current Globe University medical administrative assistant student who attended the event.

“I think networking is important because it gives a potential employer that personal connection,” Ziegler said. “By getting involved with others in the community and going to job fairs, it places a face with your resume which can increase your future job outlook.”

It’s important to remember that networking is not about asking for a job, but instead a way to build relationship that could potentially lead to a job.

networking, Globe University

Networking is a great way to get your name out in the community. These business cards are just a handful of how many individuals we connected with at the event!

How do you network at a career fair?

Knowing how to successfully network and having the opportunity to practice will open many doors with professionals who can help you throughout your career. See some simple steps below to help you be successful at your next career fair.

Research & Prepare

  • Review your networking goals
  • Research the companies beforehand
  • Update and print off copies of your resume (on professional paper)
  • Create your 60-second commercial

Establish Rapport

  • Shake hands and introduce yourself
  • Ask questions that show you are interested in the company
  • Make friends—find common ground

Connect & Engage

  • Get them interested in who you are and what you do
  • Offer to leave your resume

Conversation Wrap-up

  • Thank the person for their time
  • Ask if they have a business card, which will allow you to follow up with them
networking, Globe University, job fair

Globe University team members and student networking at the Eau Claire Business Expo. Pictured clockwise from left: Gretchen Johnson, Medical Assistant & Medical Administrative Assistant program chair; Samuel Fisher, Director of Career Services; community member; and Sarah Ziegler, Medical Administrative Assistant student.

Tips for successful networking

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare! It’ll help you feel less nervous and allow you to come across as more confident.
  • Dress professionally and be sure to look your best.
  • Introduce yourself in an upbeat manner.
  • Use a firm handshake. It conveys confidence.
  • Remember, networking is an ongoing process. After the event, connect with your new contacts on social networking sites like LinkedIn.

Student Sarah Ziegler offers advice to new and current students on how to network. “My advice would be to put yourself out there; sometimes you may feel awkward by introducing yourself to strangers, but I found that when I did represent myself, most of them were interested to hear what I had to offer. I even saw a few of my previous co-workers who I haven’t seen for a while who were willing to help me in my current job search!”

When asked what she took away from the job expo, Sarah shared, “I was able to hand out my resume to many companies and was able to discuss my career options with different employers. I was pleasantly surprised with a few of the booths and the people that I met. It boosted my confidence to get out there and meet people who I may potentially work for.”

Written by Alexandra Randall, Career Services Coordinator at Globe University-Eau Claire