Jordan Warren is a Marketing Copywriter at DEG Digital, and served as the 2017-2018 Ad 2 Kansas City president. She started as an unpaid intern, and has mastered the art of leveraging her connections to move up in her career. Now, she makes an effort to help others get connected to the right people, especially in Kansas City. This week, she shares 3 tips for networking at happy hours, which can be an unexpectedly fruitful place to find your next opportunity. Here’s Jordan—
You’re looking for a job and you’ve heard networking is the best way to get one. But which networking event is the right one? And how do you get the most out of the connections you make at the event?
One of the best events is actually a happy hour. It can be as formal as an event hosted by a professional organization, or informal, like attending your friend’s (who has a job) get-together with her coworkers. Most of all, a happy hour networking event can be a more effective way to meet people and talk about your career aspirations.
Why? Simply because it’s a more informal setting. Even organized events embody a certain aura of comfortability that’s not felt in an interview. Instead, it’s your opportunity to get introduced to people who can connect you to top agencies, creative directors, hiring managers, and friends who can help you search for that just-right job.
So how do you do it? Here are three tips to help you succeed at your next happy hour networking event.
1. Find the right event.
There are numerous professional organizations out there, including your local Chamber of Commerce and advertising-specific communities like Ad 2, so start by Googling what’s in your neighborhood. Use Facebook events to see if the agency you’d like to work at is hosting an event. Ask your working friends or schoolmates where they met people to get their jobs.
Once you find an event or two, RSVP and attend! Bring your business cards or be ready to connect with people you meet on LinkedIn afterwards. And for those who are underage or don't drink, no worries! Grab a club soda with lime, and you'll be good to go.
2. Shake hands with everyone.
If you’re attending the event alone, check in at the registration table and be honest about it being your first time at the event. Whoever’s hosting will likely introduce you to someone in the group to get you started.
Say hello and be friendly to everyone who joins your circle throughout the event. If you’re interested in a specific position, let the group know, so your new acquaintances can provide you with their insights of local agencies and who’s hiring right now.
Better yet, if you know someone you’d like to be introduced to at the event, ask someone to make the introduction for you. It’s a surefire way to connect with whomever you feel will help you get that job.
After introductions, you can work on that secret handshake.
3. Be open to every possibility.
Meeting people at networking events can be intimidating. Take a deep breath and be open. Enter the room with the idea that everyone you meet can introduce you to at least two people who could help advance your career in advertising.
If you’re introverted or get tired in crowds, turn on your outgoingness for this one event. Smile and try to connect with as many people as you can. But also, take the time to appreciate a good conversation with someone that you maybe wouldn’t expect.
Here are two examples from my own experience of happy hour networking at its best:
1) I met my friend Kirstie at the first Ad 2 happy hour in Kansas City I ever attended. She was standing at a tall table by herself, and I boldly went up to her and asked if I could join her. We began talking and formed a friendship that’s lasted four years now. And we send each other job alerts when we know the other is looking to further their skills and career with a new opportunity.
2) After registering for a pub crawl with Ad 2, I ended up talking for a 20-minute ride with someone I knew to be on the AAF Board of Directors. It was casual and I was expressing my desire to further my writing skills and branch out beyond my then very small agency. The following week I received an interview request from a large agency and after reading their website, I realized I had been talking with the Executive Creative Director on that bus ride. And I got the job!