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Five tips for networking success

Students and employer representatives network during the On Fire to Hire Startup Expo in the Curry Student Center Ballroom in October 2015.

Northeastern’s latest On Fire to Hire Startup Expo, which will be held on Monday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Curry Student Center Ballroom, will give students and young alumni the opportunity to network with representatives of more than 30 ventures seeking to hire co-ops, interns, and full-time employees.

Here are five networking tips to help jobseekers maximize the event, with insight from Bob Blanchette, Career Development’s associate director of global employer relations for the international student team.

Start with ‘thank you’

Use small talk to develop a rapport with employer representatives before you launch into your elevator pitch. “Just thanking them for taking some time out of their busy schedules to attend the event goes a long way,” says Blanchette. “A greeting helps to break the ice and allows you to ease into your elevator pitch without sounding robotic.”

Be prepared

Research the companies that intrigue you and then show that you have a genuine interest in those startups by asking pointed questions. “Don’t just walk up to a venture’s booth willy-nilly,” says Blanchette. “Explain that you’re curious to learn more about their motivations to break into their particular spaces and then dig deeper by asking specific questions about the company.”

Articulate your career goals

Differentiate yourself from the pack by articulating that your primary goal is taking ownership of your career, even if you’re looking for just your first or second co-op. “Make sure that employer representatives know that you are there to gather information to help you make better career choices,” Blanchette explains. “This will impress the professionals on the other side of the table, who will see that you’re there with a plan.”

Take notes

Jot down a few takeaways after each conversation, especially if they relate to following up to learn more about potential job openings. “As soon as you step away, find a quiet space to take notes when they are fresh in your mind,” says Blanchette. “But don’t try to take notes when you’re having a substantive conversation. That’s distracting and will prevent you from developing a rapport with the employer representative you are speaking with.”

Follow up

Be sure to ask employer representatives how to stay in touch. Most, if not all, will give you their business cards, but some might direct you to their company’s website.

If you send a follow up email to the employer representative, make sure to refer to something that was specifically discussed in your conversation. Recruiters might meet hundreds of students at an event like the On Fire to Hire Startup Expo, so it’s wise to jog their memory by pointing to a particular moment in your meeting. “Try to make your email as personalized as you can,” says Blanchette.