That trade show or seminar might not be for a few months,but if you know it is coming, then you can put it in your calendar with the deadline for registry. Your career depends on being current, right? So plan for it. Very often, the notification for registry gets lost in the shuffle of daily tasks or the dates get filled with other things that could have been scheduled differently. January is a good time to pencil things in and make sure you allow time for them.
It’s a good idea to look over all the possible events in your field and evaluate them in the light of your career plans. When the time comes to move into another position, the fact that you have taken the initiative to seek out pertinent knowledge is in your favor. Trade shows, seminars, and the like are excellent ways to do this:
see what the industry is trending toward
network with others in your professional sphere
evaluate your skills
get ideas for improving those skills
Maybe your field has so many trade shows and seminars you’d be spending half your time attending. That just gives you a broader range of choices, doesn’t it? If you attended one last year that didn’t impress you, look for an alternative that has more promise. It’s too late to have many choices if you wait for registry deadlines because the good ones fill up fast.
Events like these are a help in defining your career objective. Your job is usually a small slice of a very big possible career, and attending these events can give you a much larger perspective on the possibilities available to you. But you have to get them on your calendar first.
Networking is an absolute must for a successful career. Unfortunately, many people consider networking events as nothing more than social time akin to a cocktail party. The truth is that networking events are more like a pre-interview on a mass scale. You are on display and you ensure that your goals, value, and expertise are communicated effectively.
One of the most basic mistakes is that people tend to dress down for these networking events. While you don’t necessarily have to dress for an interview, dressing well conveys respect for others as well as for yourself. Besides, every psychological study ever done shows that when people dress they are apt to have more confidence. So put on your best business casual attire and and head to the gathering.
Another mistake people make is not having business cards ready to hand out. Sure, you can use a digital card on your phone and send it to them. But that only works if their phone has that capability and that they know how to use the application. While it may be old school, it is still easier to hand a business card over. Even better, ask which the employer/recruiter would prefer-digital or card in hand. This way they know that you are current with the latest technology, yet still understand the traditional niceties.
Be certain that you observe proper etiquette when at a networking event. The purpose of these events is to mingle and meet as many people as possible. To do this you need to be confident but not pompous. Make certain that you don’t monopolize any one company and be sure to be respectful of everyone you meet. You never know when or where your paths may cross again.
Finally, never stop making contacts in your field. You need these people not only to stay up on current trends, but you may one day need a reference, a new job or even a contact if your company is looking to expand into a new market. It never hurts to plan ahead.