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You found a job opening that would be a great fit, submitted your resume and landed an interview. Congratulations! Take a moment to pat yourself on the back, but recognize that your opportunity to make yourself shine begins well before you meet with a company representative. The difference between a good interview and a great one comes down to preparation. Here are a few tips to consider as you prepare to convince an employer that you are the right person for the job:

  1. Build Self-Confidence
    Self-confidence is key to having a great interview. And the secret to building self-confidence is simple – prepare and prepare well! But before you take a deep dive into researching your prospective employer, get to know yourself. It’s half the battle. You should go in knowing your value and knowing what you’re looking for. You can’t convince anyone that you’re the best choice for the job if you don’t believe it to be true and/or can’t say why.
  2. Know Your Audience
    Take ample time to learn about your audience. Don’t stop at Googling the company, also get to know the company representatives you’ll be meeting with. If you don’t know who you’ll be meeting with, be sure to ask. On top of that, research the company’s industry. It’s important you can show you understand the big picture by showing your knowledge of the company and its position within its industry.
  3. Ask Questions
    A good interview consists of preparing to answer questions from a prospective employer; a great interview requires that you take the time to learn about the job and prepare a few questions on your end. Remember, this is an opportunity to determine whether the company is a right fit for you and what your role within it would be. Don’t be afraid to ask what you need to help you make that determination.
  4. Remember, Manners Matter
    Be courteous to everyone you meet either on the phone, by email or in person. How you treat everyone – from a potential manager to a potential co-worker or subordinate – can make the difference between getting an offer or getting overlooked. Your interviewers will likely ask others at the company what they thought about you. Show humility and respect by being mindful of your body language, showing interest and listening intently.
  5. And So Does Authenticity
    Above all, be you. Don’t show anyone what you think they want to see, show them who you are and how you can make them and their company better with you on board.

Lastly, follow up with a thank you note as soon as possible after your interview. Consider it your final opportunity to make a good impression. And remind them again why you are the right person for the job. And remember – don’t just go for the job, go for the transformation. How will the job transform you and how will you transform the job? Now, go get ‘em!

You may have heard the term ‘networking’ and how important it is to your career development, but have you ever taken a moment to reflect on what it actually means? At its core, networking is about building relationships that can help you personally or professionally. No matter what your goals are, beginning to build a network now can help you in ways that you may not even realize. The most common question when it comes to networking is how do I even begin? Here are a few tips to get you started on your networking road to success:

Why do you want to network?
Before you start to network, it’s important you have a solid understanding of why you want to network and what it means to network. Are you interested in learning about a certain career field or want to explore what you can do with your major once you graduate? Spend some time deciding what you’d like to gain from your networking efforts. Whether it’s advice, an internship opportunity or even meeting someone who might develop into a mentor, know what it is that you are interested in achieving.

It’s About Building Relationships
Networking is about building and deepening relationships. In a world when you can accumulate millions of friends/followers on social media, a true networker understands the need to have a network with not only depth but with breadth as well. Regardless of your career goals, meet people from across different industries. They can each bring something to the table.

Don’t Avoid It and Don’t Take It Personal
Networking does not have to be stressful, but it does take work. Plan on attending events and introducing yourself to new people every chance you get. Try to connect with as many contacts as you can each time you step out. Networking is a numbers game. So don’t take things personal if you don’t hit it off with a potential contact. Just be courteous, move on and stay positive. You’ll eventually make the right connections if you stay on track. So get out there!

Be Present
When you’re in a room with potential networking opportunities, be in the moment. Don’t keep your head on a swivel looking for other people when you’re taking to someone. Give everyone you meet your undivided attention. Make every person matter. You never know who might end up being a great resource. If you put all your eggs in one basket, you may miss out on other valuable opportunities.

Consider Your Existing Network
Take advantage of student organizations on campus, your parents, your parents’ friends, even your friends’ parents. Chances are that there are people in your life who are willing to share their experiences with you or have contacts in a field that you may be interested in. It doesn’t hurt to ask! Also, join student organizations, especially those that focus on a field or subject you are interested in. Many of these student organizations have relationships with alums who are eager to share their knowledge or advice with you; take advantage of this.

Take Names and Follow Up
For you to succeed at networking, you must follow up with your contacts. Make notes on a contact’s business card of any information you want to remember that can be useful to you the next time you meet. Send a message after your initial meeting and plan to keep in touch so that your contact remembers you. A good rule of thumb is to have 3-4 touchpoints a year with your contacts. The majority of which, you should not be asking for anything. Relationships take effort, and before you can ask for anything, you need to develop equity in the relationship. You don’t want to be a Machiavellian networker. But don’t be shy about accepting favors if they are offered or come about organically.

Maintain Self Awareness
This may seem like an obvious point, but be sure to take social cues. Pay close attention to the body language of people you approach. Are you coming on too strong? Did you approach someone at the wrong time? Did they lose interest in the conversation? Most people give both verbal and non-verbal cues. It’s important you take the cue to ensure you get off on the right foot with any potential contacts.

Have Fun!
When you’re out there meeting people, make sure you enjoy yourself. People tend to gravitate toward a positive person with the right amount of confidence. So don’t be too eager and overdo it. Try and be interested, not interesting. Besides, sometimes the universe has a funny way of making sure the right opportunities fall on your lap when you’re least expecting it. Allow for these serendipitous moments by not stressing out when things don’t seem to be going your way. Keep at it, have faith and it will happen.