Navigating Your First Networking Event 🎉

â—Ź By Siew Ching

Heads up – Graduan® Aspire+ 2023 is this weekend and you’ll want to be super ready for it.

If you’ve not heard, our popular networking event is back and we can’t wait to see you all there! Happening 25 November at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, ASPIRE+ 2023 is an amazing platform that offers extensive networking opportunities for you to connect with leading organisations and who knows, maybe even land a job for the career growth you’ve always envisioned!

Our theme this year is all about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and Sustainability so you know there will be a lot of talks about embracing diversity at work as well as the sustainability choices you can make to support the long-term wellness of your workplace, community, economy, and yups – even the planet. For more info on what’s going to happen, check it out here where you can RSVP your spot too (make sure to hurry, slots are filling up fast!).

Will ASPIRE+ 2023 be your first networking event? Not sure what to expect or do at a networking event? Don’t worry, we got you. First and foremost, understand that networking is much more than showing up and passing out your resume or business cards to everyone you meet. If you really want to make it work in your favour, you need to learn how to navigate a networking event as a newbie. Here are our tips, which you can then put to good use at ASPIRE+ 2023!

#1 Have a Goal
Before you go to ASPIRE+, ask yourself this question: Why am I going? Come up with two goals – say, meeting people from your industry and getting one new job lead. When you know ahead of time what it is you want to accomplish, you will be focused during the networking event to make it happen!

In this case, at ASPIRE+, you’ll want to check out the different booths during our career exhibition to make a connection and drop your name card with organisations from your industry if a job lead is what you’re after. Want to connect with industry leaders? Make sure to attend our networking sessions where you’ll get the valuable opportunity to meet experienced professionals and Malaysia’s corporate leaders.

#2 Dress to Impress
Yes, ASPIRE+ may be a casual-ish event but that doesn’t mean you come in your jeans and slippers! You definitely won’t be making a good impression if you look dishevelled or overly casual. Instead, pick something professional – a dress or shirt and slacks – that can also help you feel good so you exude confidence when you meet others.

#3 Work on Your Effective Introduction
When at a networking event like ASPIRE+, you will meet many new people. As a networking newbie, you’re probably unsure of how to introduce yourself. Do you just stop at a handshake? Should you explain why you are there? How much is too much?

Don’t fret – here are some good tips: Introduce yourself by making eye contact. Smile and then say, “Hi, my name is ------. How are you?” Then give a firm but brief handshake. If you’re asked for more info about yourself, share the basics – how old you are, where you graduated from, what your current work position is. Then return the favour – listen for the other person’s name and remember it (it’s easy to miss when you’re a nervous first timer!), ask the same questions (where do you work, what do you do), and then let it go from there! Chances are the person you’re talking to will do most of the leading in the conversation so just take heed from there!

#4 Bring a Colleague
Two is better than one! And in the case of your first networking event, having a friend or colleague with you can make you feel less anxious than going alone. It will make the experience less intimidating and you will have someone to speak to during breaks. Plus, you can share notes with one another on how to better navigate the event.

#5 Bring plenty of Resumes and Cards!
Say you brought only five copies of your resume and you’ve given them all out. But wait, you’ve just chanced upon the company you’ve always had your sights on and oh no, you’re out of resumes! How do you then share your interest with the person manning the booth? Hence why more is more when it comes to your resume and business cards while at a networking event where it’s better to have spares than none. Keep them all tucked away in a file or portfolio bag. Last thing you want is to juggle loose sheets of paper and a box of cards while trying to share a handshake with an industry leader you’ve always looked up to!

#6 Wear Comfortable Shoes
We can’t stress this enough. Yes, you already know you have to dress professionally. Make sure your shoes are comfortable too as you’ll be doing a lot of standing, walking, and standing again! When your feet hurt, it shows in your body language – which is a no when meeting prospective employers. You also don’t want to miss an opportunity because you’re busy looking for a place to sit and rest your feet.

#7 Always Follow Up
It’s not a successful networking event if you don’t connect later outside of the event. At ASPIRE+ you’ll meet many like-minded individuals. Some may be from your field, some not. What matters is you follow up with them in one way or another. Connect via social media if the person you met has specifically asked you to follow him or her on their social media platform (or if you know he or she has a huge following already).

If you got someone’s business card, drop a quick email about how nice it was to meet them. If a prospective employer asks that you follow up the week after ASPIRE+, make sure you do exactly that. This can go a long way and open the door for a potential opportunity in the future!

All the best at ASPIRE+. Tell us how it went for you as a first timer @Graduan.

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