On Thursday, September 16th, more than 100 businesses will gather at the Embassy Suites Loveland Hotel, Spa, and Conference Center for Bixpo, the Northern Colorado Business Report’s annual business expo. This event offers an amazing opportunity for job seekers and any considering a career change to explore, make connections, and gain awareness of the opportunities that abound in Northern Colorado. Before you go, here are a few tips for making the best of the event:
Have a plan: The September 10th print edition of the Northern Colorado Business Report includes a map of the exhibit hall and descriptions of the exhibiting companies and agencies. Research the companies and create a list of a few questions for each one you are interested in getting to know.
- What are the trends in the industry?
- How does their company/agency differentiate from competitors?
- How long have you been with the organization?
- What do you enjoy most about working for this organization?
Good questions start a conversation, build a connection between you and the exhibitor, and help you gather invaluable information!
Leave your resume at home (or tucked securely in a folder): A surprising strategy, and a must. This is not a career fair. You are building relationships and gathering contact information to build your network. The fastest way to close the networking door is to go outside the purpose of the event. Think of networking as dating. You wouldn’t propose on the first date, would you? Asking for a job the first time you meet feels the same to a potential employer. Focus on building a relationship first.
Find a “give": In the interest of building a relationship, ask questions that will help you find a way to give back to that connection. Who are their ideal customers? What challenges does their business face? You are looking for someone you know that you can refer to their business or information (website, article, etc.) you might send to them to get the relationship started on the right foot. This has to be a GENUINE effort on your part to find a way to help them. If it comes across as fake, it will hurt you, not help you.
Follow up: A simple, yet under-executed step. Collecting 100+ business cards won’t help your career or job search unless you make a concentrated effort to follow up. During the event make notes about the “gives” you promise. Follow up within 24 to 48 hours with anything you promised. For any connections of particular interest, make contact to set up a face-to-face meeting within 24 to 48 hours. Send anyone you talked to an email thank you, at minimum. This is a big commitment, and the tipping point of whether or not it will be a productive day, so block out time on Friday now!
For a schedule of all the Bixpo events, click here