Last year Copeland sponsored a table at University of Victoria’s Business Banquet for the 2008 grads. I took along 3 co-workers and our intention, as invited members of the business community, was to work the room, meet some impressive students and line up potential internships for the future. The pre-dinner cocktails room was packed and humming when we arrived.
The BComm students were there to meet us, so I reckoned we would be eagerly constricted by the great coils of the crowd.
It didn’t happen. We got spat out one by one until we found ourselves regrouping at the sidelines and discreetly sniffing our armpits. Plenty of other business people joined us there to watch the student moshpit.
It occurred to us that the grads were happy enough talking to themselves. After all, they had just endured another grueling year of study and exams were over. Revelry, rather than networking, was in the air.
It also occurred to us that many of the students were a bit nervous about meeting us. In later conversations with some of the attendees, I learned that many were intimidated by the event and found the prospect of talking to a business rep to be akin to an audience with a mafia don.
This year I am speaking to the students a few weeks in advance of the evening to give them some tips on how to handle these scenarios to their advantage. Some people are naturally good at working a crowd and others, like me, need a strategy going in.
- How do you break into a conversation in progess without being stared at like you just crawled out from under a corpse?
- What 5 essential questions should you have memorized when first meeting a prospective employer?
- What should you never say?
- How do you ensure that you will have a chance to follow up the introduction here with further conversations later?
The students may not end up with a job out of the evening, but the ones who did engage us that night, people like Andrea Merson, Suzanne Hobden and Lindsey Maloney, are still in touch with me and know they can count on me to help them out in their careers. They all came with a plan. They asked questions, they listened. They didn’t text their BFFs or drink too much.
The Business Banquet should be a great evening. And really, no one should be worried about waking up the next morning beside a horse’s head.
Next blog: The obligation to mentor.