The Do’s and Dont’s of College Networking Events: Virtual Edition
Editor’s Note: Today’s column comes from our intern, Intern Sam, whose navigating the complex world of internship networking from the comfort of their suburban home.
A two-month winter break can be a real bitch. It’s nice to get blessed with Mama’s home cooking and having no responsibilities, but it can also drive you crazy to have absolutely nothing productive to do. Something I’ve been doing the past few weeks to keep myself sane is attending my college’s career center events. Every year my school has held trips to New York to meet people but this fucked year is virtual because there is a pandemic (in case you haven’t heard). They’re actually useful though and you usually get to interact with alumni who can make be great connects down the road. Highly recommend.
But if you do end up getting off your ass and attending one of these networking events, you gotta do it right. I’m basically an expert on this shit so hear me out on some tips on how to dominate any virtual networking event in college.
How to Demolish Virtual Networking Event Szn in College
- First and foremost, ask questions. Don’t be a bitch. No reason to be there if you’re not asking questions.
- Never ask about work-life balance. You’re trying to make a good impression, not ask a thinly veiled question clearly implying that you’re too lazy to grind in your 20’s.
- Always hit the “Raise Hand” button early, even if you don’t have a perfect question prepared. There was one girl in both of my networking events that asked the first question to EVERY. SINGLE. FIRM. I’m not even sure the questions were that great but it was impressive and everyone took notice. If it comes to question time and you’re first up to ask, you can always wing it and bullshit your way through a question about the best skills and experiences to develop prior to applying.
- Try not to laugh. This one is gonna be hard, because while you are a freaking beast for getting your shit together early, there will definitely be some hardo nerds at these events. But you gotta hold it together. God forbid an MD at McKinsey sees you laughing at this poor kid. It’s a bad look and you’re never going to get hired. Anywhere. Ever. For ethical reasons obviously.
- Better to overdress than underdress. This can be said for any occasion really but especially for networking, and especially on Zoom when people will be pinning your screen (assuming you’re hot like me)
- This goes mostly for finance and banking firms but asking a question about the markets is a huge risk-reward. If you ask why the Dow’s up today, they’ll be nice about it, but be thinking to themselves, “read the Journal dumbass.” But if you ask about a recent trend in the market and how its continuation may affect the firm’s business you’ll get hit with “yeah that’s a good question” aka the networking equivalent of an affirmative pat on the back from a father figure. Take it from me: I asked one of these questions and got not only a coveted “good question,” but a snap text from the aforementioned question girl complimenting my question. Type of shit that makes you feel like a young Buffett.
- Don’t ask how COVID is affecting the business, unless you know for a fact they’re thriving (even then it’s probably a bad call, they might pretend to feel guilty about exploiting a tragedy). It’s not a bad question necessarily. It’s interesting to know. But everyone gets a little depressed when they think about COVID. In the words of my Day 1 homie and artistic inspiration Maya Angelou, “people don’t remember what you said, but they never forget how you make them feel.” Maya A spat nothing but facts and this is no different. Ask questions that will make people feel good, not like shit.
- Definitely follow up but don’t be weird about it. There’s a right and wrong way to say thank you. Don’t be disproportionate about your gratitude. These people took an hour to brag about their career over Zoom, so don’t thank them as if they just finessed a job for you.