It's spring, and whether it's job-hunting for our graduating students (congratulations!) or professional conference season for faculty and staff, it's a great time to think about meeting people and making professional connections.
Conferences and events can be intimidating, though - we've all been there! Here are some tips from LITS staffers about meeting new people in professional settings and at professional gatherings:
- Set goals for yourself: introduce yourself to five new people per day, or be sure to get to know the people next to you at meals.
- If someone else you know will be there, agree that you will be each other's conference buddies, and introduce each other to the people you know.
- Sit with people you don't know. If you suspect you'll be tempted to talk only to your awesome officemate the whole time, agree to conference separately (or mostly separately, if you're going to introduce each other to new colleagues), and offer to share your stories with your colleague on the ride home or the next day.
- Within a larger meeting, look for "birds of a feather" meetups for your areas of interest. Web designers who work at colleges for women? Psychologists who study children? Businesspeople who want to run nonprofit organizations? These are great places to meet like-minded individuals.
- Beware of information overload! Bring a folder for handouts, and a zip-top bag or pencil case for business cards to give and receive. Consider bringing a stapler so you can attach the business card of the speaker or company representative to the handout they gave you. Write yourself notes so that you will remember later where you met that person.
- Got business cards? Online retailers and some office supply stores can print business cards, mini-cards, and even resumes for reasonable prices, often in a few days. You can even print many of these designs at home.
- Keep a notepad handy-- inspiration strikes unexpectedly at conferences. Set aside time to review your notes after you've recovered from the event, too.
- Go to "the thing," whatever "the thing" turns out to be: take advantage of the impromptu gatherings and random social events you find out about when you're there. And don't be afraid to get to know some people in a different specialty than yours-- you might learn something cool!
- Tweet, update, and check in! Tools like Facebook and Twitter, and
geolocation tools like Foursquare and Gowalla, are great ways to keep
tabs on a conference on your phone or laptop. Just remember to stick to
content that your boss and your grandmother can be proud of.
- Ask friends and colleagues for their tips. People you look up to professionally will tell you where they've struggled, and they'll probably have good ideas you can try.
And of course, outside of conferences, there are lots of resources on campus for thinking about building your career. Did you know that books in the MHC Library Catalog that are marked "MH Career Development Center" are in the Career Development Center in the Jones Building?
The Career Development Center has lots of resources to help you find the job of your dreams. One last tip: the academic departments at MHC usually have a link on their websites marked "Internships/Research" that links to a page at the Career Development Center for opportunities in that field. See what's on the one for your department.
Developing your career can be challenging, but we hope these tips help you to promote yourself and have fun doing it.
Thanks to LITS staffers David Lambert, Leigh Mantle, Jason Proctor, Mary Stettner, and Alex Wirth-Cauchon for their ideas and kind assistance with this post.