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Try trade show networking

By: Dan Regovich
AJ Augur Group LLC

June 14, 2013

I was working on a position and my client was interviewing several candidates for a particular opening. Within that relatively large group of seven candidates, there was one who was very interested in this job. He already had a phone interview but there was no word yet on whether my client wanted to move to the next step and meet with this candidate face to face.

The candidate had sent an email to the person he did the phone interview with and expressed his interest again. Things were going slowly and my candidate wanted to know how he could get in front of the client, as he was confident he would make a good impression. After brainstorming a bit and checking my client's website, this candidate noticed that my client would be exhibiting at a well-known industry trade show that was being held somewhat close to his home.

To my candidate's dismay, nobody who was in charge of the hiring for this position was at the show but my candidate did take time to talk to the vice president of sales, who happened to be at the booth at that time. This candidate learned more about the company and its products. They had a very good conversation. My candidate left the VP of sales with a copy of his resume. He didn't think much of what had happened since he didn't talk to the right people, or so he thought.

The next day I received a call from my client saying that one of my candidates had stopped by their booth and had talked to the VP of sales. The VP of sales had then called the president of the company and told him how impressed he was with this candidate. Just as impressive as his background was the fact that my candidate had actually taken the initiative and time to go out of his way to be there at the show to meet with them and learn more about them. I was asked to set up a face-to-face interview at corporate headquarters the following week with this candidate. The week after that, my client made him an excellent offer that he gladly accepted. The candidate has been doing a great job for my client for several years now.

Networking for a new job at a trade show is by no means anything new, but it is something that is often overlooked. Here are a few suggestions to getting your "foot in the door" at a new company at a trade show:

* Plan ahead. Get a copy of the exhibitors and/or attendees list and let the person know you'll be stopping by. Research each company and look online to see what types of openings they are posting, if any.

* Bring several updated copies of your resume with you, along with business cards to hand out. Always ask for a business card from the person you talk to. If they are not the right person to send your resume to, ask for that person's name. Send your resume to the correct contact person's email address and carbon copy the person you met. Be sure to make reference of your meeting at the show.

* Dress and act professionally. Whether you realize it or not, you are on an interview and need to leave a positive impression with whomever you talk to.

I can't guarantee that this will always be the way you can find a job but I do guarantee that this will always increase your odds of finding a job. It worked for my candidate.

Regovich is the owner of AJ Augur Group LLC, a Mentor, Ohio-based executive search firm specializing in the plastics industry.