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Networking Tips from Employers

By Kristine Penning,



Advice is always best straight from the source. A couple of years ago, we teamed up with Agriculture Future of America (AFA) to discuss various job search topics with recruitment professionals in agriculture. Here are some solid pieces of advice shared that are applicable across most networking experiences.

Come Prepared

We heard this from nearly every employer we interviewed. The importance of preparing for networking or for a career fair beforehand cannot be overstated. Here are some words of advice.

From Jason Peterson, Cargill, Inc.:

“I particularly remember young professionals networking that definitely had a plan. They went in knowing the companies and individuals that they wanted to interact with, and they had researched those companies, so they had really good questions almost as if they were going to interview with them.”

From Jennifer Struck, Corteva:

“A student came to me and said, ‘I was looking at your website and I noticed that you really stand for these values, and you have an opportunity available right now in this area. So, could you tell me a little bit more about this role or similar opportunities that will be available down the road? They had really taken the time to come purposefully to talk to me rather than asking what we do. It was a great interaction because they knew who we were, we could get right to the point, and I could really guide them in the right direction, and it made me want to go back to that person and examine their resume to see how we could fit them into a role.”

From Javier Ramirez, Elanco:

“I had a student one time that I met in a school career fair, and the student stood out, because the student came in well-prepared. The student knew who I was because he had checked me on LinkedIn before and he had researched the company. Because he was so well-prepared, the networking was much more efficient than with those who came asking the typical questions about who we are and what we do.”

Stay Engaged

Once you start a conversation, keep it going by remaining engaged with appropriate body language that shows your interest.

“Be 100% there in the conversation,” said Gordon. “If you’re talking one-on-one with someone, give them all your attention and eye contact. Show that you’re listening and engage in that conversation.”

Not only that but be sure to continue to ask questions to keep the conversation going. Both parties should ask questions of each other to make the exchange a two-way street.

“Make sure it’s a two-way conversation,” said Angie Scott with Tyson Foods. “Networking is not a one-way street. We want to make sure that both parties are benefitting from the conversation and experience.”

Be Genuine

Employers want to hire professionals, but they also want to hire interesting and personable individuals. Show them the real you and be genuine.

“Just be yourself,” said Tomesah Harrison with Bayer CropScience. “Students often seem to overthink networking, but don’t underestimate just being yourself.”

Don’t Forget to Say Thanks

The magic words! Remember to thank employers for their time.

“When a student comes up and lets us know that they are thankful for the opportunity to speak with us, you can’t help enjoy that and be able to see exactly who you’re benefitting by being there,” said Mara Gordon with Land O’Lakes.

Watch this topic on our YouTube Channel: Navigating the Job Search Process: Networking