Networking is one of the most difficult but magical skills in the business world. Great networking can provide you with not only insightful industry knowledge but also potential job and collaboration opportunities. Yet it could sometimes be scary and intimidating because it’s hard to start a conversation with a stranger.
Especially for introverted international students, you may have had a bad networking experience before or just simply worry about our English language skills. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. In this article, we will give you 5 critical tips on how to network with industry professionals both in person and online.
How Do I Network Effectively in Person?
How do you dress up for a networking event to show your professionalism? People have an instinctive way of judging other people, sometimes just based on what they look like. It only takes 3 seconds to judge a person! Everyone prefers to dress comfortably. As university students, you feel comfortable wearing t-shirts, hoodies, sports pants and shoes. But in a business environment, people dress professionally. Why?
The major reason why dressing in proper business attire is because it is a visual image of yourself which sends a message that you are professional. Therefore, you need to dress appropriately for the business environment, such as an industry networking event.
If you are unsure about the networking event’s vibe, you can always create an outfit with a blazer. You can dress it up or down to meet your needs. Dress for success is the key!
On the other hand, avoid using strong perfume, applying bold makeup, or wearing over-shining jewellery when you meet people you don’t know in the first place. Although Australian society embraces freedom and encourages you to show your own personality, again, people still have an instinctive way of judging people. They determine if you are friends or foes through the first impression. You never know if the person in front of you likes your appearance or not.
With that, it is important to wear low-profile jewellery and apply neutral makeup and light fragrance (optional) at a networking event or when you first meet someone in the workplace. You can always show your personality gradually once you establish a relationship with others in the future.
2. Body Language
Do you know 70% to 93% of information communicated is nonverbal? We communicate with our family, friends, classmates and strangers every day. However, only a small percentage of message in communication is verbal. Research shows that the vast majority of what we convey through our interactions with others is innate and instinctual, known as nonverbal communication.
Your body language such as facial expressions, hand gestures, handshakes, eye contact, body postures and even voice tone can all influence the result of communication. But these actions could always be neglected when we are focusing on how to better express ourselves verbally. Here are some tips for your body language:
Use eye contact
When you are talking to somebody, look at them in the eyes (not stare). Having eye contact is a sign of respect for them. But don’t hold eye contact so long that it becomes awkward or uncomfortable because sometimes eye contact can veer into a place of intimacy or even threats.
Use your hands to show approachability and openness
When you talk with your hand, make sure you’re not pointing at someone or being overly directive. Use your hands to show approachability. Use your palms up to show your openness. If your fists are closed or your hands are gripped, this may give the impression that you’re overly tense or unapproachable.
Show confidence through your posture
When you come into a room, show your confidence by having your shoulders back. Don't hunch over your chest, people may think you are tired and unconfident. Confidence attracts others to you. Even if you are nervous, look for people who are smiling at you. If there isn’t, find those who are alone or in groups of 2 and approach them. Who knows, these people may be just as nervous as you!
3. Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a short description of yourself, an idea, a product, or a company that explains the concept so that any listener can understand it in a short period of time. Expanding a network with another person starts by saying “hi”. Think about the following two opening statements:
“Hi, I’m Adrian. I’m a marketing student from Macquarie University.”
“Hi, I’m Adrian. I’m passionate about the digital marketing world. I’m always curious about how companies implement their digital marketing strategies to attract their customers. I’m currently studying marketing at Macquarie University. I hope one day, I can apply my marketing knowledge and implement digital marketing strategies in a company. How about you? What brings you here today?”
Which statement sounds attractive and motivates you to continue chatting with Adrian? You probably will pick the second one. That’s right! Adrian’s second opening states his passion and value proposition and gives you more information to throw the ball back - expand the conversation. This is the magic of an elevator pitch.
It is important to always prepare for a 30-second introduction of yourself. The following are some questions and tips for you to think through when you create your statement:
What do you do?
What makes you unique? Give more information, so people can reply to your conversation.
Tell a quick story. Why you are here? What are your objectives?
Do not focus on yourself only. Take time to ask about others more than yourself.
Do not use industry jargon or high-level terminologies. Some people may not like it. They may think that you are trying to impress them or show off to them your knowledge.
4. Questions You Can Ask
As a student, you may feel scared and find it hard to engage with industry professionals. You feel nervous, and your mind goes blank or, you simply stumble with your words when you meet one. You probably ask yourself “what should I say or ask them”? Or perhaps, you have successfully interest the other party with your elevator pitch, you’d probably wonder what to do next. How do I carry on the conversation? This could be your next question. In fact, this is the most common problem many people, not just students, face in networking.
To help you make sense of what the best questions to ask at networking events are for you, we’ve grouped them into the following categories:
How did you join this industry?
What skills are the most important for your job?
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in your career so far?
What kind of education/training do you have?
Do you think your education helped you get where you are?
Work condition questions
How many hours does your work week consist of?
Do you work from the office, remotely, or do you get to travel a lot?
How would you describe the workplace atmosphere?
Do you have a strategy and policies for managing working conditions?
How do you think the industry will change in the short term? How about in the long term?
Do you have any recommendations for a job-search strategy in this industry?
How do you see this industry developing?
Questions about position responsibilities:
What does a typical workday/week in your position look like?
What skills do you consider essential to succeed in this position?
Do your daily tasks change or remain the same?
What are your primary job responsibilities?
Questions about diversity in the workplace:
Does your company ensure diversity in the workplace?
Does your company/organization have a strategy in place to ensure diversity in the workplace?
Questions about the company culture:
How large is your company?
What is your company’s culture like?
Do you enjoy working for this company?
Hobbies, interests, favourite activities, etc.
How can I Network Effectively Online?
5. Online Presence Matters
Today, we’re connected to a global marketplace through social media and social networking. It has become a powerful place for you to expand your network and connect with others. Hence, don’t forget to follow up with your new connections online (via LinkedIn or Email) after a networking event because networking is not a one-time thing that you use to get something.
Creating a proper LinkedIn account is vital in connecting with people in the business aspect. LinkedIn is designed more for business and professional networking and offers a profile and options to network in a business sense. A proper LinkedIn account includes the following elements:
Professional profile photos.
Captivating background to showcase your personality/passions/skills.
Short and clear brief about yourself.
You can also post social posts to showcase your accomplishments.
While your activities online make you shine, they can also jeopardise you. Your online presence matters. Whatever position/role you are in, you are representing yourself when you’re online. Everything you say online speaks to your personal brand. Think before you post! For example:
How do you want to be perceived?
What do you want to be known for?
What is your unique selling proposition?
What differentiates you from everyone else?
Don't try to be an expert at everything. Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving.
With these tips, it is time to put them into practice. Join MARKCubator “An Exclusive Social Night with Industry professionals for International Students” to meet the professionals from SAP, TikTok, Amazon, Revlon and Salesforce!
This event is specially designed for international students who are interested in the Australian marketing industry and the job market. Unlike our Industry Networking Event in June, it’s time for everyone to celebrate the new year after the hard work of the entire year in a less formal way.
Whether you lack a bridge to break into the industry, desire to develop your professional network, or simply seek personal advice about the career opportunities out there, this networking event offers the perfect occasion to answer all your questions!
If you still worry about how to network with industry professionals, MARKCubator, Your Aussie Partner, will be there to accompany you!
If you are an international student and confused about your marketing career path, you are welcome to book a free consultation with us TODAY!