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Stray Away From the Food Table

April 4, 2010
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As business students, many of us are involved with professional associations such as IABC, CPRS or CAPS Edmonton. These associations often host mixers or events to encourage networking. Unfortunately, some students  shy away from networking opportunities because they just aren’t comfortable with “business talk.”

Personally, I find it intimidating to make conversation (often forced) with a bunch of strangers in suits. At networking events, I often stay close to the food tables for comfort. The problem is, while I’m at the food tables, someone else is taking my opportunity to meet an important business contact.

I encourage you all to stray away from those tables and start a conversation. No rules state that networking has to be all about business. I think it’s perfectly natural to chat with someone and see where it goes – kind of like real life. It’s amazing how a casual chat can lead up to a business discussion, an exchange of work emails, or a potential coffee/job-shadowing date.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Melissa Di Natale permalink
    April 4, 2010 3:51 pm

    One thing I’ve learned about networking is that people love to talk about themselves. What they don’t love is listening to you try to promote yourself. Like you said, the conversation has to be natural.

    Therefore, one tip for networking is to ask intelligent questions.
    When a person thinks you are interested in them, he/she is more likely to become interested in you. Then, like a ninja, you subtly slip in information about yourself that makes you look good. That’s just my approach so far. What do you think?

    Check out this video about networking tips from Molly Wendell, President of Executives Network: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4SoiYvxWZk

    • April 4, 2010 8:11 pm

      Those are some excellent suggestions, Melissa 🙂 I agree with you – the more you show interest in a potential employer, the more that employer will take interest in you. It’s also a good idea to come prepared – draft up some questions, either in your head or on paper, before you head to a meeting/networking session. The whole process should be honest, natural and comfortable. Thanks for the link – great tips!

      • April 5, 2010 8:27 am

        I totally agree with Melissa. At the Student Business Conference last month, I kept ending up at the same table for roundtable sessions as a shameless self-promoter. He kept bringing the conversation back to discussions about him and his new business. I managed to ask intelligent questions and have genuine interactions with the table hosts, and at the end of the day, I was the one who walked away with business cards and great connections. That guy handed out a lot of his cards, but he didn’t get any offers of follow-up from the hosts.

  2. April 5, 2010 4:06 pm

    I think it is easier to start conversations at the food table because you have an instant topic of conversation – food. Do you like it? Did someone spill something gross on the tablecloth? But, I know what you mean. And, you might end up talking to someone important with cream cheese between your teeth. Good topic!

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