Last month I wrote about what not to do during an interview. The feedback I received was overwhelming, but not as I expected. The questions I received were related to what I have experienced that made a positive impact. Were there any behaviors that made a lasting impression on me? I thought for a while and remembered a particularly unique approach that allowed a potential candidate to stand out amongst a crowd.
Several months ago, I had the honor of attending a workshop at MIT in Boston with many of my colleagues. We attended working sessions with professors and shared discussions on big data analytics, sensor technology, and many other exciting topics. However, this did not leave the lasting impression. During a late afternoon workshop, groups of students showcased their research projects. As I mingled from demonstration to demonstration, I met some of the most incredible students. Every one of them demonstrated that energy we all know from working in various teams where a few individuals stand out in a crowd. They are forthcoming with ideas and are not afraid to go to a whiteboard and have their ideas critiqued either positively or negatively. Above all else they are valuable listeners. They understand that a way to move a project forward is to kick it in many directions before settling on one.
During one of the conversations a student was extremely spirited in the conversation. He was very engaging and asked me about what I did at EMC. Since I work within our services division, I explained we are the people skills that surround our technology, and our conversation spooled from there. As the conversation ended, this student asked if he could give me his business card. I said absolutely. As he reached under the table and gave me several ‘Upcoming Graduate’ business cards, I was actually surprised.
Of the 50 plus students I met, he was the only one to do this. On his card was a picture of himself, his field of study, upcoming graduation year, contact information, etc.
This person maximized the opportunity to showcase their experiment, leveraging it as a chance to share his contact information and make an impression.
He realized his presentation to me was an interview of sorts and an avenue for a future opportunity. This led me to a few tips:
- Use every opportunity to build your network of relationships
- Understand your venue and be polite to ask prior to just handing out a card
- Be unique, have something that makes you stand out
- Be aware that every contact made may be a future contact
- Have something small, at the ready and quick to deliver that is with you at all times
I left that day realizing just how thoughtful he had been to have prepared and printed ‘Upcoming Graduate’ business cards. Needless to say, he was the one student who created a lasting impression.