Online career fairs and networking events can be great opportunities to meet potential employers and professional peers without leaving the comfort of your desk. But since virtual fairs are a relatively new technology, attendees often don’t know what to expect or how to make the most of these events.
Lucky for you, quality online events, including ones we run on the Brazen Careerist platform, are easy to navigate, even if you’re a first-time user. But you’ll still want to do certain things to maximize the short time you’ll have to chat with each employer or participant.
As one of the leaders in the online recruiting and networking space, we want to help participants walk away from online events feeling like you’ve met your goals, whether that’s to get your foot in the door at your dream company or connect with a fellow alum from your university.
Here’s what we find works best for our participants:
1. Dive right in when the chat begins
Don’t wait for the other person to begin the chat — introduce yourself right away! At most of our events, each text-based chat session lasts around eight minutes. Each of those minutes is an opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and the person on the other end, so be bold and start the conversation right away.
2. Prepare your intro ahead of time
Write a brief introduction for yourself before the event begins, one you can copy and paste at the beginning of each chat. Three sentences or so about you, your experience and your goals should do the trick. That will keep you from spending the first few minutes thinking about how to best introduce yourself, and help you put your best foot forward right from the beginning.
3. Plan a few key questions
Come up with several questions you can use to start the conversation. Keep in mind that open-ended questions tend to elicit the most insightful responses. For example, if you find yourself stuck for something to talk about, asking “why” often sparks interesting answers and conversations.
4. Bring your positive attitude
No one wants to hire or even be friends with someone who will bring negative energy into their life. Even though the person on the other end of the line can’t see you smile, they will be able to sense your attitude, and you want to come across as positive and optimistic. Don’t complain about your job or your boss; instead, frame those negatives as what you hope will be positives in your next position.
5. Do your research
Especially if you’re attending an online career fair (as opposed to a networking event), make sure you know which employers will be there and what skills they might look for. At our events, you can log in ahead of time, prioritize who you’ll want to chat with and research those organizations. While virtual career fairs tend to be more relaxed than in-person fairs, you’ll still want to make a great first impression and show you’ve done your research.
6. Avoid casual abbreviations
For text-based platforms like Brazen’s, you’ll type to communicate — but that doesn’t mean you should lean on abbreviations like LOL and ROFL. Put your most professional foot forward, just like you’d do in person, and you’ll be far more likely to hear from those hiring managers down the line. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)
7. Have your resume ready
You might not need your resume for a networking event, but if you connect with employers at a career fair, they’ll likely ask for a (virtual) copy. Update your resume before the event just like you’d do for a job interview, and have it on hand. Employers are always looking to hire people who come prepared, and this is one easy way to show that you care about working for them.
8. Follow up after the event
After the online event, be sure to connect with the people you met. One of the best places to keep that relationship alive is LinkedIn, where the other person will be able to learn more details about your background and easily get in touch down the road if an opportunities arises. We know how important this follow-up is to your networking experience, so Brazen’s platform makes it easy to connect after the event by saving conversations and contact details from each chat.
If you’re keen to join us for upcoming virtual events, sign up for our newsletter to get on the invite list!
Ryan Healy is COO and Co-Founder of Brazen Careerist.