Notwithstanding of jobs in an industry, developing excellent communication skills is a key element of professional achievement. Productive communication is an exceptional approach to fulfill tasks and duties adequately. Networking means willing to know people and being able to ask for their guidance whenever you get in contact with them and helping when they need your guidance. Between March and October, which is the period between getting a scholarship and attending the GHC, I’ve connected nearly a thousand people. However, I know a few of them in person and freely ask anything about my professional development. This illustrates the image very precisely, a few out of thousands tell me the actual number of my connections. Just as a reminder, I only wrote about my experience from my perspective. As I stated in the previous post, everyone’s GHC adventure is way more different than others, so your experience will be as unique as you.
Let’s picture the environment. You entered the convention center, everybody is in a rush whether running for a session at the other side of the center which takes up to 20 mins by walking, or trying to get in the career fair. You’re preoccupied with meeting people, expanding your network, and you desperately want to talk with the professionals around to take their business cards. What would your strategy be in such an environment? It is just like solving a math problem. I ‘ll tell you about my strategy in this case. It differs depending on where and when you try to meet people, so I divide this into three categories based on locations: Convention Halls, Career Fair, and Conference rooms.
You see thousands of people around. You know 995 of 27.000 are GHC scholars just as you, and you’ve already connected them months before. You also know that roughly ~60% of the population which means more than 16k are job seekers, that means they are all undergraduate and graduate students and ~30%, -which is approximately 8k people- of the attendees, are professionals which include engineers, recruiters and other types of professionals from your ideal company or professors and researchers who work in institutions you intend to be in. In this case, the first thing I did was grouping them up. While walking around you realize most of the engineers from the companies wear company t-shirts as a sign. That makes grouping easier.
Meet them up.
If you expect to meet engineers and take their business cards, keep an eye on them. Try to create an opportunity to talk with them. Since I thought just stopping by and telling how I am desperately passionate about working at the company/institution they work for seems unproductive, what I did is, on lunchtime, I went to the food court and attempted to meet people while waiting in the line and asked for their suggestion about the food. Why food? Because it’s humane and sounds positive. The key point is finding common ground with everyone, and food ensures this kind of environment. You may get a chance to share a lunch with them depending on your communication skills of course, and sharing food generates an amicable ambiance to talk about yourself and know the person you’re talking with. It worked for me, and I got 100% success, which means I shared a lunch every day with a different engineer/professional and asked as much as I can. Coffee would work too, there are many coffee bars inside the convention center, however, people do not spend time buying coffee, it takes approximately 5-10 mins. You must be really talkative and manipulative to be able to create a concrete connection while waiting for your coffee. Even though 5 to 10 mins may seem enough for a person who has excellent conversation abilities, keep in mind that everyone is relatively tired and not willing to hear a word from any job seekers, in general. Therefore, telling about yourself in 5-10 mins would be inefficient.
You will lose some time while trying to meet people. It is a time and energy consuming task, especially if you turned out to be an introvert like me. Thus, I would suggest you not to spend more than a lunchtime in the hall to meet people.
The easiest and the least productive place to meet people
It is so simple to tell about yourself to whom there to listen you. All of the recruiters and engineers are there to answer your questions and meet you. At the same time, it is the least efficient place to make a difference. Since recruiters meet hundreds of people in a day, if you aim to impress people, the career fair is not the right place.
Also, the best time is early morning to meet people at the career fair yet people will most likely remember the first and the last person they meet. If you can be the first one and make an impact on the engineer/recruiter you will more likely to be remembered. My only advice would be, trying not to be stressed out while talking with recruiters, and keeping in mind that recruiters are your friends. You can ask them anything about your professional development and the company environment they work for.
Rigth place to introduce yourself.
The tranquil, quiet and prosperous environment of the room ensures the most convenient ambiance to meet people. Most of the attendees are from research groups of companies such as Microsoft, Google, and others in the champions league or from national laboratories. Since I am obsessed with being a graduate student, it was the most convenient atmosphere for me to ask my questions and express myself. I talked with people more confidently and adequately. Most of the conferences I’ve attended were about Deep Learning and Machine Learning applications in health informatics and pathology, particularly. That granted me a heaven-sent opportunity to meet specialists in my intended area, and asked for their suggestions.
Whether a hall, a career fair or a conference room, networking depends on your communication skills. You can establish life-long friendships with people in a flight time or even within a coffee break. The most important point is keeping touch with people you meet to build life-long friendships, connections. Thus, I’ll compose about networking after the GHC on the next post!