10 Things to Do for a Networking Event

The title should actually be “10 Things to Do Before, At, and After a Networking Event” but that’s way too many prepositions for today.

Last week I attended International Business Club’s World Cities Night (WCN) event. It’s essentially a networking dinner with a focus on business professionals who have had experience working abroad.  The dinner ran from 6 – 9 PM but due to my somewhat insane schedule, I showed up at 7:30, regrettably missing the three keynote speakers and much of dinner.


1. Find out the dress code. Confirm the dress code. Link Google pictures in regards to the dress code to make up for the low channel richness in email communication (start counting how many OB terms I throw out there today haha). There’s nothing worse than showing up in jeans and a tee-shirt when everyone else is in evening gowns (not the case at WCN but you get my point). Of course, you’ll always have a handful of people in suits when the dress code clearly calls for “business casual” *cough JohnnyandJason *cough*, though overdressing is better than the alternative I suppose. I wore a short-sleeve black striped blazer over a cami, black suit skirt w/ subtle florals, and black pumps.

2. Print those business cards! When a few second and third year Sauder students asked me whether I wanted to order business cards, I responded “Why?!” in bewilderment. I had no one to give them to. And frankly as much as my parents love me, they’re more appreciative of the colour of autumn leaves than the fact that I’m a marketing coordinator or a first year rep. However, when a lawyer with whom I struck up a lovely conversation gave me his business card, I REALLY wished there was a better way of validating myself than saying “I’m Phoebe, first year commerce student” repeatedly.

3. Make sure your blazer/top/pants/skirt has a pocket for business cards. So after getting the card, I realized I had no where to put it at the dinner table! Leaving it by my plate would be rather disrespectful, and holding it in my hand would prevent me from using hand gestures! Ah woe is me.  Lesson learned.


4. Pay attention to the keynote speakers (duh?). There’s a reason they’re invited. Hold on to their words. Formulate questions. Note down interesting points to bring up later at dinner. Not only will you avoid the awkward silence when seated to someone who has obvious superior intellect and greater range of life experiences, it will also make you seem more knowledgeable and passionate about the field.

5. If you see a business professional standing by him/herself, seize the opportunity to go over and introduce yourself! Yes, this is terrifying and intimidating, but seriously, what’s the worst that can happen? They come to events like WCN because they care about students and want to share some life experiences. Give them the chance to do that.  There’s a bit of a thrill in getting to know new people =D

6. Strategize, strategize, strategize. WCN was set up so that there was one or two business person and 5 – 10 students at each table. Having been severely disadvantaged by missing the keynote presentations, I decided that I would seem like a clueless kid (and I was) if I sat down at any table with speakers.In the end I sat down at a table of five, opposite of the business professional who was having an one-on-on conversation with the girl next to him. However, his career choice and experiences really perked my interest and I had a whole bunch of questions for him. So as people left the table, I just kept moving one seat over until I got the chance to ask my questions. Time flew by really fast and by the time we finished our dinner, we were the only two people at the table! Since this was my first networking event, I was amazed by how easily conversation flowed and how helpful the professionals were.

7. Show interest by talking about yourself, but LISTEN for at least 60% of the time. Dinner time conversation is neither like listening to a professor’s lecture nor presenting yourself as if you’re being interviewed. It’s an interactive process!

8. Avoid certain topics. Old rules that governed women’s dinner conversation state that one should never talk about four things: money, sex, religion, and politics. Of course, now time has changed. Based on personal preference, I don’t like talking to people I just met about the above four things. I mean, if you’re at a politics convention, then by all means rave about Obama or rant against Prop 8!  Another way to approach the topic at WCN would have been, “Do regional politics and different cultural values influence how you approach your career in other parts of the world?” Thoughts regarding this point are much appreciated =D

9. Skip the messy desert!!! Because dripping ice cream on yourself or sending pieces of a tart fly in all directions is oh-so-embarrassing (this hasn’t happened to me… yet).


10. Send an acknowledgment note/email. Now most websites on networking tell you to do this. I still have my hesitations. I procrastinated on composing the email to the people who gave me business cards and now I’m past the week-long time frame. Maybe next time then =|

Any more tips? Post below! Feedback appreciated =D

(Image source)

Casual Interviews Unveiled

Coffee and Macbook during Interviews

Did anyone else notice that – in Sauder especially – an interview is required for EVERYTHING?! Want to be a club exec? Come in for an interview. Feel like volunteering at UBC? Sign up for the interview. Need to use the vending machine? Interview with the Coffee Crisp first =D (the last one involves munching on my part XD). I guess it’s only fitting that a business school is promoting a common industry practice.

Time for a confession: I actually LOOOOVE interviews! I mean, come on, when else am I going to have the opportunity to talk about myself for fifteen minutes straight and at the same time holding the undivided attention of three seniors?! Jolly good.

So I’ve done three or four of these, mostly for business-related clubs/organizations/events. Here’s what I learned and observed.

The Set-Up. Usually the room is set up so that there is a table between the interviewers and the interviewee. The most common number of interviewers is three (occasionally two, rarely one). The tribunal setup maybe a little intimidating for people, but it should be enjoyable because 1) you will be able to maintain eye contact with at least one person at all times 2) your attention is divided so you don’t spend the entire interview wondering if the one person who decides your fate likes you. So far the lovely folks I met all had laptops and took notes as I spoke. I wasn’t very accustomed to this at first… imagine saying “so I think I’m suitable because…” and hearing three laptops going tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap…

The Interviewers. They all seem like fun, amazing, and extremely nice people, seriously (and this applies to the positions I didn’t get as well, so I’m not just saying it)! It was more of a chat than a nerveswrecking process really, thanks to the interviewers who are our peers. There’s usually a round of introductions and handshaking when I went in, before getting down to business. I had questions every time and they always enthusiastically answered all of them.

The Dress Code. Most of the ones I went to were completely casual, ie. show up in your regular school clothes. One recommended “business casual” which translates to simply “clean and well-groomed”. No suits yet, no surprises there.

The Questions. Pretty standard, run-of-the mill things that gives one plenty of opportunity to talk about oneself. Hurray. Here they are… if my memory doesn’t fail me

  • Tell us about yourself. [Thanks AW]
  • How can your skills and experience contribute to the organization/club and how will they help you in your role?
  • Describe a situation where you had to show leadership and work in a team.
  • How would you motivate fellow team members/volunteers?
  • Why do you want to join this organization/club?
  • What do you think about the organization/club’s motto, cause, theme etc.?
  • What other time commitments do you have?
  • Describe an organizational structure that you didn’t like, and what you did to improve the situation.
  • If you were a [insert random object here], what kind of [that object] would you be? (That was hilarious!)
  • Here’s a situation (like event promotion, marketing strategies), please think about it for 30 seconds and then act it out with an interviewer.
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • Tell us a joke. [Thanks AW]

The notification. I heard back from my interviewers within three days either by phone or by email. Phone rejection hurts, but what kind of rejection doesn’t haha? The other exciting part is reading the group emails and seeing who else got in! So that’s my take on interviews (don’t ask me about university admissions interviews, they’re so effin terrifying! *shudders*)