Many students in college focus primarily on gaining knowledge they can apply to their fields after graduation. What a lot of college students rarely prepare for is etiquette in a formal setting with potential future employers. Wendy Smiseck, director of career services, teamed up with business networking entrepreneur Terri Thompson to create a networking event for students to hone their skills on how to carry themselves in business settings.
To start off the event, everyone received three fake business cards and a name tag. Trickling into Founder’s pub one by one, students were greeted by a group of seven alumni. The alumni ranged from various graduation years, majors and fields of work. After they all introduced themselves casually before the event started, Thompson took the floor and explained the process of the mock networking event.
The students had three sessions in which they would go around and interact with the alumni to hone their networking skills. Alumni would give pointers and constructive criticism to the students. After each 15-minute mock session, the room would turn to Thompson again, where she would assess how everyone was doing and give more pointers to students on how they could continue to improve.
The first tip given to students was to “gear up” and educate themselves on the company events they are going to. Make sure you have groomed yourself properly before entering an event because, let’s be honest, first impressions last. Be natural at the event, but be mentally conscious of what your body language is saying to the potential employers around you.
The second tip was to have a goal in mind; why am I going to this event? Realize that you are not going for food or to socialize with a friend working for the company. You are going to express interest in a job and make yourself appear valuable to the business men and women around you.
The last tip was to thank people twice, once when exiting a conversation with someone. Give a firm shake, make eye contact and ask for a business card. Then after the event, in a thank-you card, add a quick message thanking them for their time and expressing interest in meeting, leaving a business card inside.
Among the students who attended, freshman Quintin Muhlenkamp cashed in on his opportunity to learn business etiquette early. Hoping to eventually work for an energy sources company, his goal was to assess his abilities early.
“Alumni gave good feedback, and overall I gained more confidence through the event,” Muhlenkamp said.
Smiseck commented on how she was proud of everyone who came to the event and were willing to step out of their comfort zones. This event helped to overcome the awkwardness by showing students what they can improve on and how they can better their communication techniques at a networking event.
“Having confidence, we pass it on to others,” Smiseck said.