Speed Networking 101:
BY MARISA SANDERS
If you’re a networking newbie, or just want to work on your networking skills in a fun and low-stress environment to improve your chances of success, ACS is offering a unique, free event for undergraduate students at the 245th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans, LA.
The Undergraduate Speed Networking with Chemistry Professionals event will be held on Monday, April 8, 2013, from
4:00–5:30 p.m. in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. It will
offer a unique, highly efficient way to make connections with
dozens of potential colleagues quickly and painlessly. At the same
time, you’ll get valuable practice in your networking skills, including
active listening, making your elevator speech, and more.
At the event, you’ll essentially have a series of brief conversations with one chemistry professional after another. These could
include chemists from all job sectors— including academia,
industry, government, and non-profits, as well as entrepreneurs,
self-employed chemists, graduate students, and retired chemists.
SPEED NETWORKING “DOS”
The following is a list of networking tips that will help you at the
Speed Networking event as well as other networking opportunities you may encounter. If you follow these steps, you will likely
have a successful networking experience!
1. Relax. Networking is supposed to be an enjoyable activity—
it’s not like you’re undergoing a root canal or being forced to
become “BFFLs” with your new connections!
2. Smile and stand up straight (maybe try practicing this in
the mirror beforehand). You’d be surprised at how far a smile can
go. It’s also not a bad idea to chew a piece of gum or have a mint
beforehand. Bad breath is often a turnoff for many. (Be sure to
dispose of the gum or mint before you begin networking. Gum
smacking and blowing bubbles will leave an impression— but
not the one you want!)
3. When you meet a person, shake his or her hand firmly
(but not too tightly!) and try to couple this action with good eye
contact. A firm handshake and eye contact convey confidence
4. Exchange business cards. Business cards contain all your
essential contact information for maintaining your connection,
so you don’t want to be caught without one! If you run out or
don’t have any yet, write your name and e-mail address on slips
of paper in advance. It’s not the best, but it will do.
The one common thread is that they are all there for the express
purpose of meeting chemistry undergraduates like you!
Networking: symbiosis in action!
Networking generally refers to the act of exchanging information, contacts, and experience for social or professional purposes.
It’s a symbiotic relationship, where you and your connection
work to help one another, and both parties benefit.
You may be thinking: “Why would someone want to network
with me How can I be of any use? I’m merely a college student!”
You’d be surprised. Your connection might be the chair of an ACS
local section who needs students to volunteer at an upcoming
science fair. Or your connection might like to meet one of the
professors at your university, and needs an introduction. The possibilities are endless!
Remember that follow-up is vital in networking; it cultivates
the relationship. So when the time allotted for your chat
(If you RSVP for the Speed Networking event
at email@example.com by March 29, 2013, you
will receive free business cards, so this part
should be easy.)
5. Find out each person’s name
6. Give your elevator speech. An elevator speech is basically
a 30-second overview of your knowledge, skills, accomplishments, and goals. The expression is derived from the rough
amount of time you might have to speak with someone during a
brief elevator ride. It should be compelling and memorable.
Naturally, you can engage in an actual conversation after your
elevator speech— well, sort of. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in
most conversations, people generally prefer to talk more than
listen. Let the professional have the floor, but be sure to ask
follow-up questions. These include queries like, “What do you like
most about your career?” or “What’s a typical day on the job?”
You could ask about internship possibilities, how the person got
started in their career, or whether they can offer any job-seeking
advice or recommend career resources. You’ll leave a nice lasting
impression by asking thoughtful questions.
7. Last but not least, try to jot down notes on the back of
the person’s business card as they speak. This will make it easier
for you to remember what the person shared if you have to follow up at a later point.
inChemistry • www.acs.org/undergrad