Vincy Workplace
February 18, 2005
Lost opportunities

It was the perfect opportunity, a room full of business executives attending a university luncheon, eager to network and offer their assistance.

On the other side, young university students who would soon begin their search for permanent and summer positions, unfortunately not many connections were made between the two. It was truly a missed opportunity, but many working professionals find themselves in these same situations and waste a perfectly great chance to advance their careers.{{more}}

Mistake 1: Stuck in the comfort zone. Almost every university student upon graduation needs a job, and the best way for anyone to find a job is through networking. With that said these university students did not take the initiative to introduce themselves to the executives, many of whom have direct hiring power or connections to hiring powers. The students sat at the luncheon tables with their peers and hardly anyone ventured to sit at a table with the business executives even though seating was open with the exception of the head table.

The smart thing would have been for the students to scout out a table with a few empty seats where the business executives were sitting and ask if they could join the table. The technique is no different for working adults who find themselves in a similar situation.

Mistake 2: The wrong attire. With a few exceptions (the extra shiny, multicoloured, imitation snake skin shoe and the shiny shirt) the young men were dressed appropriately, dark suits, ties and clean well-shined shoes.

The women however left much to be desired. Although many wore dress pants, they were all too tight, the tops clung to their frames and the deep cuts in the front of the tops left nothing for the imagination. If this was a party the attire would be perfect however, this was a business luncheon.

The few ladies who wore skirts choose the wrong style; they were too small, too short or way too long. One young woman was a bit large and wore a skirt that was too short and became quite a spectacle but when she approached the stage and began a presentation it was clear that she was an excellent speaker. Sadly, her clothing overshadowed her talent. Does your clothing help accentuate your skills and talents or are they impeding your progress?

Mistake 3: Professional decorum. People pay attention to just about everything when attending a function and the way you behave is no exception.

The way you sound, your body language all play an integral part in forming a great first impression but this was not common knowledge among the students and many did not do well. Since you only have on chance to make a great first impression make sure that the impression you leave is the one you want people to remember.

•Karen Hinds works with companies and professionals to develop their competitive edge through effective communications, image management and customer service. Send comments and suggestions to