What is an elevator speech? What do I wear? How do you talk to someone you do not know? Questions were buzzing in Professional Communications when the topic of networking came up. The class was made up of medical assistant, veterinary technology and business students, and for the vast majority of the class, this was their first time learning about networking.
Baby Steps to Becoming More Employable
First, Globe University-Green Bay students learned about appropriate dress based on their industry and the setting. I asked my class, if you had an interview, how many of you would know what to wear and have something on hand? Over 80 percent of the class said no to both questions.
For medical assistant and vet techs, business casual was the appropriate dress. For women, that means a dress shirt, dress pants and shoes. We went through a professional dress presentation by Jackie Doperalski, director of career services, that covered topics like makeup, jewelry, perfume, hairstyles and more. You can never invest too much thought into a first impression!
What Types of Shoes Are Appropriate?
Next, we got into a discussion about the perfect pair of shoes. At all costs, avoid stiletto heels, peep toe shoes or anything that draws too much attention. A conservative black pump does the trick and adds a professional touch to your outfit. Many asked, what about flats? As long as they are business (not casual), flats are suitable too.
Selling Yourself While Networking
Students learned that an elevator speech or 60-second commercial is a way to introduce themselves and sell their greatest assets. Students prepared and practiced their introductions, handshakes and networking conversations. You might want to tailor your introduction to your setting as well.
Putting Practice to the Test
Talk about nervous! Some of my students were terrified just by practicing public speaking in front of the class, so I was slightly anxious to see how they would do in a real networking setting. We set up an on-campus networking event, called Network Now that consisted of community members, staff and students, networking, a formal presentation and dinner.
And let me tell you, my students did amazing! We shared some of our fears when it comes to networking and talking to people in a business setting and came together to work through them.
“I thought it was a great experience, and it was a good way to get to know people in the community. I would definitely attend one of these again,” said Aly Linstad, vet tech student.
Amazing, Thoughtful Speaker
Attendees of the networking event were able to hear a great presentation on building better relationships and resolving conflict in the workplace by Tanessa Klug, Director of Development at the CP Center. “I loved the speaker. She connected and touched on different ways you communicate in your job and how to handle conflict,” said Christina Palomo, medical assistant student.
We were also able to present a small token of our appreciation: a framed story about our annual community service day at the CP Center.
Triple Win (well maybe quadruple)
Through this class and networking event, we were able to provide students an experience that helped them take what we learned in class to the next level. This event was free for community members who spent time networking with our students. Finally, this event offered a, opportunity for everyone to learn more about their own development in terms of communication preferences and tendencies. We were also able to take professional pictures for each student to update her LinkedIn profile too!