At any networking event, especially ones with so many great companies and mentors involved like Hustle Summit, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and miss great opportunities. Out of the many professional events I go to, Hustle Summit is by far one of the most resourceful ones out there.
Even if this is your first or 100th networking event — here is my 4-part game plan to help you get ahead.
1. Do some healthy stalking… I mean research.
Fun Fact: Hustle Summit makes it easy for you to know every recruiter and mentor who will attend – the event website provides their LinkedIn profile links! Make sure you do your company research, so you won’t waste time asking easy questions or things you can easily find through a simple Google search.
Another Fun Fact: The night before attending my first Hustle Summit, I opened up every single recruiter’s and mentor’s LinkedIn quickly and LinkedIn kicked me off the platform because they thought I was a robot… don’t do that. Learn from my mistakes.
My Takeaway: You don’t need to talk to everyone at the event. Make an A, B, and C list of who is most helpful for you before the event, but make sure you allow for flexibility for when you are actually there.
2. Come up with different ways to pitch yourself to people
I get it, you heard the ‘make yourself unique’ elevator speech since you started the job hunt. Think about it this way — even the best matches on paper can still get you rejected from the job opportunity. Being different is an advantage that will help you stand out in the long run when meeting people at events.
Here are other things to consider:
Figure out what you have done and how that relates to potential career opportunities and put those points into bullets. Write each bullet in an engaging way to help you prep for networking small talk. As dry as that may sound, it works.
Make a list of career goals like events you want to attend, volunteer opportunities, collaborations with friends, side projects and more. Try to do anything and then document it to the world. Plus, it’s great LinkedIn content for you to showcase!
Fun Fact: Recruiters and mentors are people who come from a place of passion and learning. To do something because it sparked interest shows good character. If you truly believe that what you do is something that you love— then your soft skills should naturally follow you to your dream job.
My Takeaway: Nobody believes me when I tell them that I’ve failed millions of times at networking. I tested 20 different elevator pitches, spent 10+ years doing public speaking gigs, redid my resume 30+ times, and did more crazy things to figure out my own secret to successful networking. Not everyone is as over the top as me… but sometimes mixing it up (and practice) helps.
3. Ask for something different
Want a job? So does everyone else here! In order to stand out, ask for anything but a job. I pursued a degree in advertising while in college, yet I had almost zero agency experience. So, I asked those in advertising for opportunities to shadow — basically, I had to sign an NDA, which gave me a day of free work. Shadowing helped me understand and experience the advertising space.
My Takeaway: Not every company (ok, most) will let you shadow… but think of something that might spark other people’s interest. You don’t always have to take the ‘ask them for coffee’ approach. It can be a 5:00 pm post-work happy hour or a 10-minute company tour.
4. Figure out new ways to follow up
Get creative with how you follow up, because you will be one of the 1,000+ emails they receive daily. Like gifs? Tell each person you meet that you do follow up gifs and then slam them with an awesome gif in that email. Literally, the possibilities are endless. I personally use the follow-up emails to connect each person to resources that they might find interesting and useful.
My Takeaway: Think about what is happening when people might be receiving your email. Make it fun, make it informational, and proofread the living daylights out of it! I like to take one step further and make sure I send it at an optimal time (which is normal for me since I do content strategy and planning for a living).
Bonus: It's important to know that sometimes, it's not you… it's everything else.
Even the best matches on paper can be rejected from the job. You can be the best applicant… but maybe they already hired someone else, there is a hiring freeze, there are no jobs open, or the only job open is for senior level professionals. Maybe they had a bad day when they met you, maybe your personality is not compatible with their personality, maybe a job would be open 5 months later, and you need a job now. The universe is sometimes not on our side and it will feel like that for most job leads.
About the Author: Virginia deGuzman is a data visualization designer for The NPD Group. Before becoming a mentor at Hustle Summit, she graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in 2018 with a Bachelor's degree in advertising design, with minors in UX and psychology. Throughout college, she freelanced, created a startup, volunteered for Model UN conferences, and more. She believes that while the post-grad job hunt was depressing — she is happy to find the job that allows her to practice and explore her talents. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.