A Young Professional's Beginner's Packing List For Networking Events

A Young Professional's Beginner's Packing List For Networking Events

The basic bases to cover if you are going to a mixer anytime soon.
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Networking events and professional mixers are an extremely valuable tool for young professionals to get face time with people ahead of them in their career paths. If you are new to the scene, it can be easy to feel like you don't belong or are underprepared. Here is a list to make sure you look and feel like a pro.

1. Business attire

When you look good, you feel good. It is important to dress the part when looking to make professional connections. Looking sharp can help you look more credible, established, and polished. An easy formula for professional attire is a blazer + slacks + button up/blouse + flat shoes. If you want to look really polished, make sure to wear long socks and match your belt to your shoes.

2. Business cards

This is an easy way to step up your networking game. For around $15 you can have a couple hundred business cards made. Make sure you have your name, phone number, LinkedIn URL, and email (I recommend you make a separate personal email that is just your name that you only use for business. This makes sure that people can still contact you even when your school email expires). This gives you an easy way to prompt an exchange of business cards and helps people remember you.

Pro-Tip: always choose a matte finish on your business cards for networking events because it is common practice for people to take notes on how to remember you on your business card.

3. Pen and paper

Just like people are going to be taking notes on you, you should be taking notes on people. Bring a couple pens and jot down a couple of notes on every person you meet and your conversation with them in your notebook or on their business card, this way, When you add these people on LinkedIn or reach out to them in another way, you can add a note about your interaction with them. This helps them remember you and adds a personal note to your interaction.

4. A couple copies of your resume

While most people will be satisfied to look at your LinkedIn Profile, there are still people out there that prefer the old school hard copies. Invest in a nice black folder and bring a few copies of your resume just in case someone asks. It is better to be over prepared than underprepared.

5. Whatever spare toiletries you may need

It is important to make a good impression, so you want to be prepared for anything. Bring some deodorant, some mints, spare lipstick, blotting sheets etc. These are all things that will keep you feeling fresh and your best.

6. A strong handshake and a smile

At the end of the day, networking all starts with a good impression. Be pleasant and smile when you meet people like you would with meeting anyone. Practice a good strong handshake and you will be great!

Pro-tip: aim to make contact with the webbing between the index finger and thumb with the same place on your hand for a solid handshake.

Cover Image Credit: Cytonn Photography

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8 Things To Know About The 911 Dispatcher In Your Life

In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

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For the first 18 years of my life, all I knew about 911 dispatchers was that they were the voice that came after the tone, from inside the pager on my dad's hip. The voice telling him where to go and for what. I had no idea after I turned 19 that I would soon become one of those voices. National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week this year is the week of April 14th-20th. I felt it appropriate to write my article this week focused on that, considering it is such a huge part of my life. For the rest of the world, it is just another week. For us, this is the one week out of the whole year that the focus is on the dispatcher, the one week where we don't feel so self-absorbed about saying what we do is nothing short of heroic. Here are some important things to know about the 911 dispatcher in your life.

1. We worry about you constantly

My biggest fear in this job is picking up the phone and hearing my loved one on the other end. No matter what the circumstance. The map zooms to the area of the county where my family and I reside, and my heart always sinks. I get a giant pit in my stomach because the very real reality is it may be someone I know and love. Don't be annoyed when we call you twice in one day or overly remind you to be safe. We are just always worried about our loved ones.

2. Our attention spans can be short

We are trained to get the pertinent information and details all within a matter of seconds. I can't speak for everyone on this, but I struggle a lot with paying attention when someone is talking to me, please forgive me if it feels as though I've stopped listening after a few minutes. I probably have. I've noticed that I listen very intently to the first couple minutes of a conversation and then my mind trails off. Nothing personal, just habit.

3. We have great hearing and multitasking skills

Most of us anyways. We can hear the person on the phone, the officer on one radio channel and the firefighter on the other, all at once. I have found that this skill comes in handy when trying to eavesdrop, also not as handy when you go out to dinner and can hear all five conversations going on around you. I have yet to master shutting that off when I am not at work.

4. We are hilarious

It could be a combination of using humor to deal with bad situations and spending twelve hours at a time in a little room together. But I think it’s that we are just freaking hilarious, nothing else to it. If you go the whole 12 hours without laughing, you're doing something wrong.

5. We have a very complicated love-hate relationship with our jobs

I love what I do, and I truly believe I was meant to put on that headset. Everything happens for a reason and my education plans out of high school didn't work out because I was supposed to be here doing this instead. I love what I do. I hate it sometimes too though. I remember specifically once taking a phone call about an hour before my shift was done. As soon as I got into my vehicle to go home, I bawled my eyes out and swore to myself that I was never stepping back into a comm center again. I hated my job with a burning passion that day. My next scheduled shift, I went back to work because I love it too. See, it doesn't even make sense it's just complicated.

6. We are tired

Believe it or not, this career can be incredibly exhausting. Someone once told me "You just sit at a desk for twelve hours, that can't be that hard." Physically that's right, we just sit there. Mentally and emotionally the first phone call of the shift can drain you and then you still have a little over 11 hours to go. I won't go into details on that but trust us when we say it was a bad call. We are tired. Some of my days off I just sleep all day not because I'm physically exhausted but because my mind needs that much time to recharge.

7. We are crazy

I really have nothing more to say other than no sane person would be a 911 dispatcher. We are all a little 10-96 in the best way possible.

8. We love harder than most

We love strangers we have never met, we love our officers that piss us off daily over the radio (we piss them off too) and we love our co-workers that drive us nuts sometimes. It takes someone incredibly strong to save a life through the phone and someone even stronger to go back after they didn't. With that strength comes a weakness of vulnerability, we know our hearts will break more often than others, and we still continue to put on that headset to help others. The people with the biggest hearts work in a dispatch center. If you are lucky enough to be loved by one don't take them for granted.

The list could go on and on. Dispatchers possess so many skills and qualities that most people will never acquire in their lifetime. People think 911 and picture the police officer, the firefighter, the paramedic often completely forgetting the 911 dispatcher. For us, that's okay because other than this one week out of the year, we don't expect praise or thank you. When it comes down to it, we love what we do and we would do it no matter what.

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.

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I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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