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Professional Perspective: Networking at the Directions Conference – Part 2

January 19, 2018

Welcome to Part 2 of the Directions Conference edition of Professional Perspective, where industry professionals share their insights regarding various employment-related topics!

The Directions Conference connects Red River College students in Business and Applied Arts with industry professionals in many areas of business. Keynote speakers, breakout informational sessions and the popular roundtable networking event combine into a rich and rewarding experience for both students and employers.

Zain Ali, Human Resource Manager at Domo Gasoline Corporation Ltd. is back with more of his professional perspective. Zain’s professional perspective comes from an accumulation of his personal experience as an international student and his professional work experience within various industries, and now as a Human Resource Manager.

Last week, Zain talked about how to prepare for networking events. If you missed it, you can read it here:

Networking at the Directions Conference – Part 1

Read on for part two of Zain’s insight on making the most out of networking events in preparation for the Directions Conference!

Today’s question:

What should students do during networking events like the Directions Conference?

Zain’s Professional Perspective

Let’s pretend that today is the day. It is time to attend the event. Got the chills? What do you do? Where do you sit? What do you say? I know exactly how you feel! I, too, was a student and I went through the same thoughts and experience. Let’s talk about what will help you ace the networking event.

You have done the prep work, you have done your homework. You are halfway there. Now all you have to do is use the tools you have prepared to make meaningful connections at the event. Consider these pointers:

  • Walk in like you are ready to win the day. Have a welcoming posture and show that you are happy to be there. Avoid crossing your arms whether during a conversation with anyone in the room or while in between conversations. You want to come off as a friendly person who will fit well with any team, rather than shy, grumpy or even rude. Understanding that this might be one of your first networking experiences, it could take a few moments to warm up for the event. Start talking to people. Strike a conversation with your colleagues, the registration staff, and the event ambassadors so when it is time to talk to the industry representatives, you can be sure that your mind, tongue and ears are in sync!
  • Prioritize your connections. Networking events are golden opportunities that can help boost your career. However, there might be hundreds of industry experts present at the event, and you with limited time to talk to all of them. Value your time and approach first the individuals who have a direct link to the career path you are exploring.
  • Introduce yourself. Start with a smile and use that elevator pitch you have been practicing. Introduce yourself to a friend, if needed, to get more comfortable with your pitch. Keep it short and smooth, and be ready to respond to follow up questions that they might have. You can also introduce someone you just met to others. It is a great way to keep the conversation moving from one person to another, and it also can help you better remember the people you meet.
  • Show interest. Once the introductions are out of the way, find opportunities during the conversation to ask the questions you have prepared. Show respect by taking turns with others who might be present in the conversation. And most importantly, listen as they respond. Take notes is a good idea, but do so without being distracted by your writing.
  • Seal the deal. Grab their business cards, jot their email address down, connect with them on LinkedIn – these are your tools to keep in touch with the industry experts you meet. Don’t let your leads go cold and continue building and nurturing your professional relationship with them.

As an industry professional, I can tell apart students who are prepared from those who are not. Hopefully, these pointers help you feel more comfortable at any networking event.

And last but definitely not the least, don’t forget your instructors are highly qualified industry experts. Heed their advice – I can relate my career experiences to all of my instructors’ teachings.

On that note, I will leave you with this quote that I was taught: You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Stay tuned for the next post on what to do after the networking event!

Zain will be participating in the 2018 Directions Conference and you can connect with him during the Roundtable Networking Event.

Directions Conference will be held on February 8, 2018 at Canad Inns Polo Park. For more info, visit

To read past editions, click here:
Professional Perspective – What employers are really thinking

For additional employment resources, visit Student Employment Services’ Online Employment Resources or book an appointment with an RRC Employment Advisor at 204.632.3966 or