Not all job opportunities can be found on job boards or in newspapers. In fact, the majority of positions are never posted anywhere, which can make finding a job a little more complicated – especially if you don’t have the right connections!. Luckily for you, the upcoming Student 2 Business Conference hosted by the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), is a unique event where students can connect directly with local employers and find out more about job opportunities in the city.
With representatives from over 250 local businesses, the conference is the perfect place to meet some new people and make valuable connections! Unlike job fairs where you might spend time visiting specific company information booths – the Student 2 Business conference is all about NETWORKING. Instead of booths, the conference hall is set up as a meet-and-greet event, meaning that company representatives stand around the room and students can chat with them personally about the industry and any upcoming opportunities.
If the idea of approaching a complete stranger and starting a conversation seems a bit intimidating, read on for some tips and tricks that will help you succeed at networking!
STEP 1: Preparation
Before attending a networking event, be sure to prepare the following:
You won’t necessarily be distributing your resume at a networking event, but it won’t hurt to bring a copy just in case someone asks for it! Even if you don’t need it at the event, having an up-to-date resume or CV will be important in your follow up conversations with employers. For help creating the perfect CV or resume, check out the many great resources at the Student Success Centre.
As a student, you may not have thought of making business cards yet. Business cards are easy to make and very inexpensive (you can print them at home, InPrint in campus, or at office stores like Staples). Having business cards with you at a networking event means being able to do the ever-important “contact exchange” with employers- you offer them your card, and they will return the favour and give you theirs!
At a minimum, your business card should include your name, program, contact information, and LinkedIn information (if you have an account).
Questions (and answers)
You don’t need to prepare a full script, but having a few pre-planned questions can definitely be helpful when it comes to filling those awkward silences that come up in conversation.
- Research the companies in advance and consider what you want to know about the job, the industry or the work environment. For example:
- What is your favourite part of the job?
- What aspects of the job do you think would be most challenging for a new hire?
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into this industry?
- Prepare a responses to the following common questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to work at this company or in this industry?
- What kind of job are you looking for?
Prepare a short introduction that you can confidently communicate when you meet someone new. Your introduction should be brief, professional and contain information that is relevant to the type of job that you’d like to get. Here’s an example:
My name is John Smith and I’m currently in my second year of Engineering at Western. I’m passionate about the environment and am looking to pursue a career in renewable energy. Could you tell me a bit more about your company’s sustainability initiatives?
STEP 2: Entering the Conversation
When you walk into the room (depending on when you walk in), the room might be filled with representatives surrounded by groups of students already engaged in conversation. You might think to yourself, “How on earth do I get into this conversation?”
Confidence is key. Approach the group that you’d like to join and make eye contact with at least one person. Don’t forget to smile! Before you say something, wait for a natural pause in the conversation. When it feels right, smile at the representative, extend a handshake, and introduce yourself. Be sure to acknowledge others as well by saying “nice to meet everyone”. Remember: if you end your introduction with a question, the conversation will flow naturally from there!
STEP 3: Exiting the Conversation
When you’re ready to leave the conversation and move on, politely thank the person for their time and again- extend your hand for a handshake. If you want to stay in touch, be sure to give the person your business card and ask for theirs in return.
STEP 4: Following Up
If you do get someone’s contact information, it is important that you follow up right away. Soon after the event, send them an email thanking them for chatting with you, asking them a question, or requesting more information. Always be polite and professional. If you are unsure about your wording, have a friend look over your emails before you send them.
Good luck to all of our International student job seekers!!
About the Student 2 Business Conference
The S2B conference is an annual conference held at the London Convention Centre. International students are invited to attend a special international student alumni panel during the conference which will feature recent graduates who have successfully navigated the Canadian job search market and found jobs right here in London. Admission for the S2B Conference is $10 for students and includes free shuttle service from Western’s campus to the London Convention Centre. Click here for more information and to register for this exciting event!