How To Impress Employers At A Networking Event

If you're a graduating senior or a student on the hunt for an internship, you probably have a love/hate relationship with your college career center. On one hand, you want them to be there for you 24/7 when you need your resume looked over right away. On the other hand, you're about to kill yourself if you get one more invitation to attend an advanced pantsuit shopping seminar. I know. Learning to be professional isn't fun and it isn't always easy. And that's why we're here to help you.

A few weeks ago CollegeCandy was invited to attend a media networking event at a local college, and thinking ourselves the experts in all thing media, we obviously attended. While I met a ton of awesome, charming, smart students who I would love to hire one day, I also met a lot of students who clearly didn't even take the time to Google "how to behave at a networking event." Because, big insider industry tip, it's not all about printing out your resume and handing it out.

Want a few tips on impressing people at a networking event?

Here goes:

Be yourself. I met a million students all on their best professional behavior and after the 16th super-professional-I-went-to-a-how-to-network-seminar speech, I started losing track of who was who. So if you're funny, be funny. If you're smart, be smart. And if you're melancholy, recite me a sad poem. That way, when you send me a follow-up email, you can reference something, anything really, and I'll remember you. I work for a college blog, not for an investment bank; I can handle a few crossing-the-line jokes and pop-culture references.

Be polite. I can't believe I even have to say this, but I was shocked at some of the rude behavior. I get it, you're here to get a job or an internship. I know that. I was in your shoes not too long ago. But that doesn't mean you can walk up to me and say "what can you do for me?" What can I do for you? I'm a struggling blog editor living in NYC, I'm lucky if my fly is zipped every morning. Why not tell me what YOU can do for ME. We had 100 intern applicants for four spots this year. I assure you, we don't NEED you. We need talented interns...who will come into work every day, produce awesome content, and, ideally, tell me when my fly is down.

Do your research. Find out who is coming before you show up. Take the time to research companies that you're interested in. Nothing was more exciting for me than a student approaching me and saying, "I love that article you did on global penis size today." And nothing disappointed me more than, "I'm looking for a full time job in online media when I graduate. So are you guys like a candy blog that, like, blogs about popular candy in college?" All you need is ONE fact to blow someone away. And it doesn't hurt if that one fact is mixed in with a compliment.