Tips for Creating a Lasting Impression
By Taylor Duckett
College is an exciting time.
As young adults, we are on our own, finally away from home, and we get to experience the world while learning more about who we are. There are people to meet, and things to do. Due to all the things that college has to offer, sometimes we forget why we are there. We are in college to get an education that will prepare us for a career. While studying and getting good grades is important, it’s only half of the battle. The other component of starting a good career is being able to network effectively.
I don’t really like the saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” but it is true, to a certain extent. No one can make it on their own, and God will send people into our lives that can help us get to where we need to go. Some people are great at networking, and others simply aren’t. Networking takes practice, but it is something that can be perfected with time.
Tips for Effective Networking
- Pray that the Holy Spirit guides you to the people He wants you to connect with. Not everyone we meet is someone that can bring us to our purpose. Ask God to give you the discernment to know who is supposed to help you at that moment.
- Pray for God’s grace and favor to go with you. God has given all of us natural abilities to be used in reaching our purpose. Ask for His grace and favor to go and prepare the way for you and for His will to be done. God will open doors that He wants you to go through and close others that are not for you.
- Carry business cards. Professionals remember students who have business cards and it sets you apart by showing that you are prepared.
- Always have an updated copy of your resume. It does not matter whether you are going to a business lunch or to a career fair. Always have your resume because you never know when the opportunity will come to present your resume to a future employer.
- Dress the part. You have to dress for the job you want, not the job you currently have. Most events will require you to wear business casual or business professional. Business causal is as simple as a pair of slacks and a conservative dress shirt. For business professional, you should be in a suit. A business professional suit should not be flashy and it is best to stick with gray, black, navy blue, and brown.
- Be well groomed. Make sure that your hair and nails are neat, because people notice your personal appearance. Also, keep jewelry to a minimum. You don’t want anything to distract the people that you are trying to network with.
- Smile and make eye contact. Eye contact is important because it shows that you are paying attention, and that you are actively engaged in the conversation. Try not to allow your eyes to wander too much, because some people may take that as a sign of disrespect.
- Practice your handshake. Your handshake matters. It can be a sign of your confidence level. People are going to remember if you give them a lifeless, weak handshake, versus a confident, firm handshake.
- Develop an elevator speech. An elevator speech is your basic pitch about yourself. When you are preparing it, imagine that you only have 30 to 60 seconds in an elevator with a person and in that time you have to make a meaningful, lasting impression.
- Learn how to handle business meetings that occur over lunch/dinner. You should always be prepared for the possibility that a networking event will take place over dinner. Try to avoid messy foods, and make sure to have a working credit card, or cash, in case you have to pay for your own meal. Also, brush up on which silverware to use for which course, if you are not familiar with a formal place setting.
- Do your research. If you know that you are going to be speaking with a specific person or company, do your research so that you can have relevant questions. The person or company that you are meeting with will notice.
- Always send a thank you note. At the end of any event or meeting, always send a thank you note. Not only is it a kind gesture, but it will also set you apart. When you send the thank you note or email, try and include something relevant that you and the person spoke about, so that they know that you were listening. Also, try and adhere to the 48-hour rule and send your follow up within two days of the initial meeting.
While you are in college you should take the time to connect with your professors, and classmates as well. They have valuable experience and different perspectives that can help you grow into a well-rounded young adult. Networking is important, but it doesn’t have to be daunting, because at the end of the day, God will not withhold any good thing from you…especially if it leads you to fulfilling His will for your life!
Contributing Writer, B.L.O.G. Magazine
Taylor Duckett is a student at the University of Miami majoring in Economics and Legal Studies with a minor in Accounting. She is also a student at the University of the Supernatural Ministry, with a concentration on Youth Ministry. She enjoys writing creatively in her spare time and writes for her college newspaper. Taylor is a woman who strives to glorify God in all that she does.