Networking should rather be looked upon as an art where you are trying to paint the best image of yourself to reps through meaningful conversation so that your image leaves a lasting impression. This is not entirely done through asking redundant questions, but rather asking relevant questions that you genuinely want answers to as this can lead to more meaningful conversations with reps. Networking is not a competition with other students and it is not hard. Networking should be looked upon as a two-way street to be most effective. You should think of networking as both the firm getting to know you and also you getting to know the people and the overall culture of the firm.
To be successful at networking/recruiting events, you must go into them not only with appropriate/relevant questions, but also with the right answers. Before stepping into the intimidating room filled with banners and logos of various firms, you must have answers to the following questions:
- What am I honestly hoping to get out of this networking/recruiting session? (meaningful conversations, relevant questions and hopefully many referrals)
- Who am I looking forward to talking to? (summer students and associates are just as important to talk to as partners, recruiters and managers)
- Am I going in with the right attitude/mentality? (being aggressive and pushy gives off a bad impression; be confident, relaxed and patient)
Now that you have a strong foundation of what networking is, let’s take a look at the secrets to succeeding at it at your recruiting/information session with PwC!
The Approach – Achieving Comfort and Confidence Early is of the Essence
If many firms are present at the recruiting session you are attending, approach the firm you want to work for the most (hint: PwC!). If it is a firm-specific information session, approach the individual that you are most familiar with or the individual that seems the least intimidating (contrary to rumours and speculation, this is often times the partners and recruiters of the firm).
The reason for this tactic is so you gain comfort and confidence early on that you can carry through the rest of the recruiting session with. The quicker you become comfortable and confident around the representatives you are with, the more meaningful conversations you are bound to have which in turn means the more memorable you will be.
The Elevator Pitch – The “Falling in Love” Phenomenon
The first thirty seconds with a representative is the most important. This is what I like to call the “falling in love” phase. You should always introduce yourself in a memorable fashion so that you snatch the representative’s attention. Don’t forget to mention your name, what year you are in and what position you are seeking at the firm (ie- summer student or full-time employment). It would also be helpful to mention why you want to work at the firm and what stands out to you about the firm (this is where prior research of the firm plays an integral role).
The elevator pitch is not something that will magically be programmed in your head before approaching representatives. I personally spent about 1-1.5 hours outlining my elevator pitch several days before I took part in the recruiting session at McMaster a couple of years ago. I practiced it and tailored it for each firm by including something that stood out to me about the firm.
The Conversation – Relevant Questions will Lead to Memorable Conversations
If you have succeeded at doing everything I mentioned above, you have now caught the representative’s attention. What now?
It is very likely that you will have other students networking with the same representative at this time, so the best approach would be to listen. Keep in mind that PwC is not only looking for great leaders that can voice their opinions with utmost confidence, but is also looking for those individuals that are integral team-players who can add value to their clients by proactively listening. If others are asking questions/making conversation, never interrupt and give off the vibe of you being aggressive. You will be heard if you are patient. Wait for your opportunity to add value to the conversation.
Keep in mind my 80/20 rule that I mentioned in my last blog post. In the following few days to the recruiting/information session, the representative is most likely going to remember roughly 20% of what you said and 80% of how you said it (positive nonverbal communication = memorable). Always maintain eye contact and give off a positive vibe when conversing with reps.
Imagine that there is a moment of silence in the conversation with the rep. You now have two options. First one is to build upon the conversation already in progress. Second one is to either ask a question that is relevant to the individual you are talking to or get to know the representative by asking him/her a little more about his/her experience and career at PwC if he/she has already not mentioned it thus far. Representatives are there to talk about themselves and the firm so make use of that opportunity. The best thing to do at this time is to again, listen. Listen to what the representative is saying and when he/she is done, try to tie it back to you and your career/what you want out of your career by using PwC terminology/ideas. This will show the representative that you have done your research on PwC and that you are not only truly interested in the firm, but also in the representative’s response to your question. This will make you memorable.
An example of this would be you asking the representative what he/she does outside of work and the representative telling you how he/she is involved in the community and volunteers in various charities and organizations when not in the office. If giving back to the community is something you too are passionate about, you should definitely mention this and the fact that you are aware of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Canada Foundation and how it is a terrific program setup for employees to give back to the community. This way, you have not only shown that you are interested in the representative’s response, but you have also shared something about yourself and have showcased the fact that you have conducted meaningful research on PwC. If you can do this with at least 75% of your conversations, you will definitely leave a lasting impression!
Other great topics of conversation with PwC representatives would be on work-life flexibility, non-specialization when picking clients, career path of the representative, travelling for work, UFE support and other mentorship programs (ie- coaches) and what makes him/her enjoy working for PwC. Keep in mind that you are not in a Q&A session with the representative but rather in a networking session where conversation > direct questions!
The End ... should be the beginning of your new found relationship!
You are coming to an end of your conversation with the representative. How do you exit the conversation without looking rude and ensuring that you leave a lasting impression? Wait for a break in the conversation with the representative and kindly thank him/her for his/her time. Similar to the elevator pitch I mentioned above, it is best to leave the conversation leaving the representative fully satisfied with your conversation yet still craving more, which will hopefully convert into an interview opportunity!
Do you just walk away? I hope not! Make sure to ask for his/her business card and give yours out as well! The reason why I mention that the end is merely a beginning of your relationship with the representative you were networking with is because networking is most successful when it is conducted timelessly as opposed to ending under a specified time period. Keep in touch with your newly found relationship. Go home and email the person and show your excitement and enthusiasm in meeting him/her and working for the firm. Add the person on LinkedIn if you have an account. If you remember from my last blog post, keeping in touch is one of the key ingredients in staying memorable!
I know that this is a lot of information to digest but I truly hope you learned the art of networking by carefully reading this blog post. However, keep in mind of the most important advice you will ever get in terms of networking with PwC: be yourself, be confident and be excited.