So, with the long weekend approaching, and the weather warming up nicely, you may find yourself outdoors this weekend, enjoying a nice barbecue, picnic, or celebration. If not this weekend, you’ll definitely be outdoors in a social setting at some point this summer. In addition to simply relaxing and catching up with friends and family, you would be wise to take that time and use it to network and plan ahead in your career search. Whether you’re a recent graduate looking for full-time employment or still in school and angling for an internship, here are a few quick tips for when you find yourself gathered outdoors with potential contacts.
1. Go easy on the food & drink
Sure, you can grab something off the grill and have a refreshing drink. It’s summer, after all! However, be mindful of your intake when in networking mode. It’s not cool to be talking through your burger or to be expanding on your interests with mustard on your face. Similarly, it’s best to not excitedly slur your way through a conversation because you’ve had one or two too many beverages. Think in moderation!
2. Start small and don’t monopolize time
When you identify people that you’d like to speak with, make some small talk before delving into more job-related topics. Folks are in leisure mode and don’t want to be bombarded with anxious or overzealous interrogators. When the conversation turns toward business, ask a relevant question or two or showcase something specific from your set of qualifications. Avoid a rehearsed speech and don’t attempt to rehash your entire resume. Sometimes all it takes is a mention that you’re looking for work to get the ball rolling, so also make sure that you are honest and clear in your career intentions. Know when to wrap things up, too. If you’re around the same people for most of the afternoon, you won’t want to be talking shop all day. If that person is just making a quick appearance at the outing, you’ll want to allow them to make the rounds without you taking up all of their time.
3. Make the most of that time you have, though
Be sure to thank the person and ask for a business card or contact information, so that you can follow up at a later date. Perhaps you can meet up again for coffee or for a tour of the office? Hopefully, you’ll be able to send along your resume in a later email. Asking for contact information ensures that you’ll be able to take the conversation further! Plus, don’t forget to follow up with a thank-you email.
4. Continue moving forward
Hopefully, your conversations led somewhere. At the minimum, you should have probably received some insight or advice that compels you to further your research and career exploration. Add the people you spoke to on LinkedIn, Google their companies, and use sites like CareerNet and Vault to look more closely at the person’s day-to-day job responsibilities. Keep the motivation and idea gathering flowing!