Written by Madison Shouldice, Stephanie Yeargin, and Crystal Lye
You've probably heard it a billion times: “it’s not the grades you make, but the hands you shake." As students we are constantly taught to associate good grades with a bright future... Then we are subsequently told that grades are only half of it, and that it is time to navigate this foreign process known as networking.
Research suggests that 60% of all available jobs go unadvertised, which means expanding your connections is more important than you realize. Although it may seem nerve-wracking having to go up to strangers and make small talk, here are some tips to help you make the most of the experience:
Do . .
Read Up on Current Events. It is crucial to be aware of big happenings taking place in the industry. Discussing a trending topic with a person not only shows your true interest, but could also provide an eye-opening perspective. What’s our favorite way to stay in the loop? Check out www.renx.ca and sign up for their newsletter to receive the industry’s top 10 news stories every day.
Be Selective. Networking, like many other things in life, is all about quality over quantity. Sometimes when we see a lot of delegates we are tempted to talk to as many as possible; however, doing so can lessen your chances of making a genuine connection with one or two, and you can miss out on those who may be the best fit for your network. If possible, find out who will be at each event and make it your goal to seek out one or two who are of the most interest to you. An hour or two of networking goes by much faster than you think and it’s important to allocate that time efficiently.
Initiate. Not everyone will appear to be approachable - in fact, the majority of people will be huddled in groups of 3 or 4, making it difficult to get in on the conversation. In order to infiltrate the pack, wait for a lull in the conversation and squeeze your way in there directly across from the delegate (a simple, “Mind if I join?” will do). This makes it easy to maintain eye contact and engage, as it’s natural for people to focus the most on whoever is directly in front of them. To follow, give some context - who you are, why you are here, why you are interested in them. The conversation should flow from there!
Ask Non-Work Related, Open-Ended Questions. Part of networking is getting to know people - it is okay to converse about non-work related topics in between real estate. In fact, creating a rapport or learning about their personality can help you determine if that company is the right fit for you. And instead of asking simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, ask open-ended ones that can lead to interesting stories or meaningful conversation.
Follow Up. Don’t forget to ask for business cards (and hand yours out as well)! Reach out to them via email and LinkedIn, and take them for coffee to talk in a quieter setting about topics you didn’t get to cover during the networking event. The whole point of meeting someone at a networking event is to gain a valuable connection thereafter, so be sure to keep in touch.
Stick with Your Crew. Yes, this is the safest place to be but in order to network effectively you must leave your comfort zone. Oftentimes networking events can turn into “reunions” where professionals stick with professionals and students stick with students. Be confident in your ability to ride solo and go up to people that you don’t know - it will take you a long way!
Feel Obligated to Linger. You don’t have to stay with one delegate until a conversation completely dies out. They understand how important it is to meet multiple people and it allows others the opportunity to talk to them as well. It is not considered rude if you politely thank them and excuse yourself from the conversation. As a general rule, try not to stick with one person for more than 15-20 minutes. If you feel like you need more time to talk, use the handy-dandy trick mentioned above and follow up after the event.
Ask Cliche Questions. If you can easily Google the answer to a question, don’t ask it! Just one of the many no-no’s: “So what is a typical day like on the job?” (spoiler alert: they will almost always answer with, “In this career, there is no such thing as a typical day!”). Try asking what route a person can expect to take to get to that career, or if their work is mostly group- or individual-based work instead. Get creative!
Always remember that everyone has to start somewhere and most professionals are understanding of the fact that you may be a little uncomfortable at first. Take comfort in the fact that most of them are here to connect with YOU! It’s a long-term process and you may not see the value now, but years down the road when you’ve established strong relationships across the industry it will be a priceless resource.
Looking forward to seeing you test your newly-found skills out at our Annual Kickoff Event on September 28th - happy networking!
Looking for ways to connect with top professionals in the Vancouver real estate industry? Become a member of the UBC Real Estate Club here to gain exclusive access to our events!
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