The career fair is over. You arrive home absolutely exhausted, cheek muscles sore from smiling, hands finally empty after handing out resumes. And your pockets are full of business cards. What now?
Extend Your Thanks
Email the people with whom you spoke to extend your thanks and reintroduce yourself. Jog the contact’s memory: you are the one with the background in electronics that he commented on, the one with the designer dress that she admired, or the one with the memorable resume—details you noted on the back of the business card, of course!
In your email restate your relevant education, skills or experience and a related accomplishment. Don’t write that you “provide sales support.” Pique the reader’s interest by sharing an achievement, for example: “Last year I was awarded ‘Top Sales Producer’ for two quarters. Would you be interested in hearing my sales strategies?”
Be sure to ask what the next steps might be, or if your job fair meeting was quite short, consider suggesting an informational meeting during which you must ask insightful questions, demonstrate passion for the field, and be respectful of your contact’s time.
Ending your email, reattach your resume, and thank the contact for his or her time. Close with a sincere word of your ongoing interest, or an offer, “Please let me know if I can be of service.”
Set up a database in which you record every action: who you contacted when, what you sent, when you promised to get in touch once again. Don’t leave this to memory. If asked to send transcripts or certificates, do this right away, and note it in your database. Keep these records for at least six months.
Mark your calendar for a follow-up phone call, two or three weeks after the fair. Remind your contact of where you met, of your email, and make an effort to share a thought that came to mind, for example: “I recall that you mentioned that ABC Sales is exploring market expansion. I would be very interested in joining ABC at such an exciting time.” Keep in touch periodically with an email in which you share an interesting and relevant article, or refer to a pertinent news event.
The above sequence is but a guideline. All your communication should be brief, business related, professional, and without question it should also be a reflection of your usual communication style.
With time, you may run into this contact at a conference or luncheon, or you may read about your contact in the paper—a perfect opportunity to continue growing and managing this business relationship. And with time, you will become a “known,” your value communicated (as opposed to those who simply send a resume and wait), and one of these contacts may just hire you, or recommend you to an industry colleague looking to place an enthusiastic new hire who obviously has what it takes!
Sometime in the future, you yourself will undoubtedly have the opportunity to introduce someone to a contact. The most genuine, effective and long-lasting networking is reciprocal. Network it right, and your future job hunts may be short indeed, and your rise up the career ladder steady and rewarding.