There is a misconception that business attire or business casual means boring, plain, and just gross. Imagine the most bland image you could possibly conjure up in your creative mind and you have the stereotypical idea of what it means to wear “business casual” or “business attire.” Now, I’m not saying that suits are anywhere near awful; believe me, I feel pretty powerful when I sport my own suit, but there are other options available.
An opportunity came up to attend a luncheon that featured two of my favorite public relations firms and I saw it as an even to kill two birds with one stone: dress up nicely and network with the companies I dream of working for one day. With Texas heat blazing, I desire nothing more than to throw on a soft dress or the less fashionable – shorts and a t-shirt.
In order to make this chiffon dress more business casual, I threw on a blazer to give it an “I’m fashionable, but I also know you’re judging me and I want to work for you one day” look. And thank goodness I looked good because the representative of the company I mainly came for was their hiring manager that I spoke to once at the career fair last semester. She remembered me because of the hand-written note I sent her last semester, but in my mind, I like to believe my cute outfit will make her remember me even more afterwards – that, and my resume.
Which brings me to the three points that I have learned during my first year of college so far, as far as networking with professionals in the industry goes:
WRITE THANK YOU NOTES.
When I say thank you notes, I do not only mean e-mails sent to their business account after you have spoken to them, but also hand written thank you ones mailed to their office. In other words, the “good mail” that everyone becomes giddy about when they receive it. I can honestly say it makes me happy when I receive a letter from a friend, so just imagine how much a professional loves receiving mail on pretty stationary. Your thank you letter will stand out among the piles of black and white business envelopes.
YOUR RESUME TELLS YOUR STORY.
I’ve always been under the impression that resumes should be in black and white and highlight the most basic of your experiences. WRONG. Today, my “creative” resume was debuted to four professionals in the industry and all of them actually approved of it. Caution: do not take my word for it though. Resumes vary depending on the job you’re applying for and the industry you’re trying to pursue. If you’re like me, creativity is encouraged, but if you’re entering a more “follow the template” kind of industry, then don’t follow my guidelines.
NETWORK LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW.
Someone once told me that it’s not always what you know, but it’s who you know that will land you a job in the industry one day. Aside from the fact that I, along with every other college student, desire nothing more than a job after receiving my degree, I honestly enjoy meeting people. Networking during my first year has resulted in building connections that I hope to keep for when I qualify for the internships offered at the company of the contacts or even just professional advice about the industry, life, and how to improve on my current goals. Overall, I am basically reiterating a fact: network and follow up on everyone you network with. It’s one thing to get their business card and write them ONE thank you card, but another to continue to build the relationship.