Rules on Being Social at Socials
Picture it: You’re invited by one of your favorite firms to attend a social one crisp winter evening. You are excited for the opportunity to meet more people, but what do you do once you arrive in your snazzy business casual outfit? Read on for some top rules for navigating social events with firms.
Rule #1: Observe the timeframe of the event: Arrive and depart on time. If a social is from 5-7 pm, then plan to arrive at 5 and leave at 7 (to take full advantage of the window of opportunity). If you need to be late or leave early, tell the recruiter in advance. Additionally, avoid being TOO early (5 minutes is safe) or staying TOO late. Recruiters need time to set up and will be facing a long drive home afterwards!
Rule #2: Detach from your friends. It’s ok to carpool, but it’s not ok to cling to your buddies throughout the whole event. You are there to meet firm professionals, not fraternize with your classmates!
Rule #3: Locate folks in your area of interest (e.g. Atlanta Tax). If it’s a general mix and mingle social, it may be hard to locate people that actually work in the service line or location you prefer. If that is the case, there is no shame in asking the recruiter to point out the people you should target, and then you’re spending your time at the event wisely!
Rule # 4: Talk to the “right” people. Be sure you’re spending time with a mix of younger professionals as well as “decision-makers” (campus recruiter, managers and partners). It’s important to get the big picture of each type of professional you’ll work with, and also increases your odds of having multiple levels of employees rooting for you!
Rule #5: Nobody puts baby in the corner (you=baby). If you find yourself in the corner of the room not talking to anyone, give yourself a quick pep talk and get back in the game! Group conversations are easy to jump into with minimal disruption; just edge your way in and be engaged!
Rule #6: Repeat the names of people you meet (and ask for their cards by the end of the conversation). Remembering who you speak to at events is so important for follow-up and relationship building. Business cards are an easy way to remember names if you’re not so great at it, so don’t leave the social without collecting cards.
Rule #7: Don’t feel obligated to “talk shop.” Sure, accountants have to stay abreast of all of the technical topics out there (anyone seen the latest FASB pronouncement?), but that doesn’t mean it’s all they care about. Feel free to discuss the world at large, and stay away from controversial topics such as politics and religion.
Rule #8: Think about dating to get in the right mindset. This sounds silly, but when we boil it down, the recruitment process is really just a courtship. You are "dating" a lot of firms throughout the year, until you "go steady" with that one special firm at the end of the process (i.e. sign an internship offer). When you go on "dates" with all of these firms, you need to look nice and be conversational so you get to know each other (just like you would with that hot gal/guy you've been after). The firms know that you're "dating" other firms, but there really isn't a reason to advertise that at this early stage.
Rule #9: Say thank you afterwards! Whether you send an email or hand-written note, the thank you after an event is key. Not only does it show that you’re a gracious recruit, but it’s one more time for the recruiters/professionals to see your name in print! The more they see your name, the more they remember you.
Rule #10: Have fun and be yourself! At the end of the day, you'll gravitate towards the firms that you enjoy being around most, and they will do the same with the students they feel best fit their culture.