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Networking at Recruitment Events: Don’t Show Up without Being Properly Prepared

You've made it! You're in the same room with the whole gamut of who’s who in recruiters. Now you just have to get their attention to land that job you’ve been dreaming of. But how do you stand out from the crowd? We asked a specialist for some advice.

Accountants can be huge introverts at times. This is an enduring cliché. “But all clichés have some truth to them and I notice in my work that the profession attracts more reserved people than average," confirms Eric Mercier, Senior Advisor at Kerosene Recruitment, a Montreal-based firm that specializes in headhunting for accounting and finance positions. Fortunately, there are ways of overcoming your shyness and shining at recruitment events.

Put yourself in the right frame of mind

Start by putting yourself in the right frame of mind: You need to be prepared for the meeting. To succeed, you will first need to fight your natural tendency to mingle only with people you already know. “You may feel more comfortable starting the evening with people you know, but be ready to leave them at your first opportunity," says Eric Mercier. “Too many people are content to attend events without being seen, and they don’t meet anyone new. That’s the most common error.”

Show up early

It’s okay to be the first one on site. “That way, you can get familiar with the space and put yourself more at ease,” explains the advisor. “It also gives you an opportunity to meet others who have shown up early and enjoy uninterrupted conversations before they get too distracted.”

Come up with a game plan

Ideally, you should have a specific goal in mind. For example, you will want to speak to specific people so that you can explain the types of services you can offer them. Get a copy of the guest list, choose the recruiters that are most likely to appreciate your profile, and read up on their activities to find items of interest that you can mention to help break the ice. Plan the questions that you will ask them. “You’re always better off when the recruiter speaks first," adds Eric Mercier. “The recruiter will give you bits of information that you can build on during the conversation so that your message is better suited to your conversation partner."

Practice short introductions

Aside from the longer conversations you’ve already prepared for, you will surely have unexpected opportunities to introduce yourself to other recruiters and colleagues. When they arise, be ready to introduce yourself in 20 to 30 seconds. The point is to keep it short so that you show your added value. Here again, preparation is the key!

Do not converse the entire time with the same person

“You should ideally meet 20 to 25 people in an evening," advises Éric Mercier. You can, for instance, take advantage of crowd movements to change your conversation partner. “A good tip for shyer individuals is to make the most of high-traffic areas, like next to the bar or buffet, on the terrace where people take breaks, or in line for the washrooms. The people you find at those spots are easily approachable because they are not already engaged in conversation."

Likewise, if you're rather reserved, it is better to avoid randomly joining groups. “You may end up going unnoticed because the more extroverted types monopolize the group's attention. It’s always better to converse with one person at a time."

And of course, never forget to shake hands. Your grip should be firm and confident. Smiling is also recommended. And always look your conversation partners in the eye. You are now ready to shine!