By Nicole Cavender
March 23, 2017
Our PRSSA chapter at Texas State was pleased to have Sam Heimbach come speak to us about keeping a professional appearance and the best ways to network for any social encounter. Heimbach is currently a Career Advisor in the Career Services department at Texas State University.
Heimbach is a Texas State alumnus and a former member of the Texas State PRSSA chapter. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Public Relations and Business Administration. Heimbach began working in Career Services in March 2016. She has coordinated many school events to help students prepare for interviews, internships and future job opportunities.
During her presentation, Heimbach informed us of the many services that Career Services offers such as: constructing mock interviews, job and internship searches, and resume and cover letter reviewing. Utilizing these resources at Texas State can help students further their knowledge on how to prepare for the future. Career services’ main goal is to help any student who feels unsure about their future and is seeking help on how to improve their professional image as a current student.
Heimbach highlighted that a networking opportunity can arise at any moment throughout your life . Whether it’s in the classroom, in a student organization or any social function. You never know which connection can make a difference and provide you with an opportunity for your future.
Networking gives you a chance to market yourself and create a mutually beneficial relationship with whomever you create a connection with.You can network with anyone. It could be a family friend, a classmate, a professor or someone that you meet at a social or professional event. Heimbach provided a couple of organizations where you can sign up and get involved with others who want to network , such as the Network After Work and the Austin Young Chamber.
Heimbach emphasized that preparing for a networking event can be simple if you take the right steps.
- Do your research to find out what companies will be there, which ones you are interested in and what they are currently involved with. This will help you to have conversation topics that others will be interested in.
- Tell people the different extracurricular activities that you’re involved in. Most people can connect with you if you tell them something that they might have in common with you.
- Practice your elevator speech. This is just a quick introduction of who you are , what skills you can offer and what you’re interested in doing for the future.
- Bring your business cards for your connections to have your information.
It’s also difficult deciding what to wear when going to a networking event. Deciding if your outfit is or isn’t business casual is one of the biggest dilemmas that students have. . Heimbach emphasized that it’s important to look professional, but also be comfortable. For women you should have a pair of cropped slacks or dark jeans. You can pair that with a nice top and/or a blazer. For men, wearing suit pants with a nice dress shoe always looks great. The key is to not over dress. Mix professional pieces with casual ones.
Another tip that Heimbach gave was to carry around a “padfolio” with you to any interview or networking event. They’re compact leather folders that can hold business cards, resumes and other important documents that you want to save.
There are also many social cues that you don’t notice that you are doing that our potential connection does notice. This happens when you fidget , constantly push your hair behind your ear, avoiding eye contact, having your arms crossed or having a weak handshake. Be mindful of these cues so that you can have a great first impression.
Heimbach’s final tips were to always follow up with someone after meeting with them and to exchange business cards. Make sure to send a follow up email within 24 hours of meeting a new connection saying what a pleasure it was to meet them, and ask to set up a time to possibly get to know them better. Always find a way to stay connected with your connections, because you may need some advice or help from them in the future. It’s also a good idea to arrange for an informational interview with your connection in order to gain more perspective on how they developed their professional career and what tips they have for you to be successful in the future.