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I got invited to a Lunch and Seminar event from a Internationally well-known IT company.

I checked the schedule of the event and saw a time for "Lunch and Networking". I think this will be the one of the best opportunity for me to meet people that I can be friends with, ask advice for my career and also a good job opportunity. the thing is I don't have any idea how to approach and befriend the people at the event. Of course the speakers and attendees will be mostly middle-aged man and have this professional look.

Currently I'm a Computer Programmer (7 mos) at an Industrial Engineering/Manufacturing company and this is my first job. I'm 21, finished my bachelor's degree last year and I still look like I'm my teens. Some people still say I look like a student and disbelieve that I'm currently a working professional.

How can I approach these people and make use of this event to the fullest with my current standing? This will be my very first Professional event in my very first months in my career-life. I need to get use these remaining months and get ready to meet the outer world of my career.

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Do some research on the topics of discussion for this event. A basic understanding of those topics will help you to better understand what is discussed during the event, and that will allow you to have better discussions with the people there.

Also, if the schedule lists who will be speaking at the event, then do research on their professional backgrounds - what projects, technologies, and products have they have worked on? Research those things to gain enough of an understanding about them so that when you approach those people at the event, then you have some topics to discuss.

During the event, pay attention to what the speakers say. It may be a good idea to take notes so that you can remember important points and also things that you'd like to ask questions about. Then during the "networking" portion, you can approach the speakers and mention what you found interesting about what they said, how it applies to the company/field you are in, and ask them any questions that you may have. You can also ask about what you learned while researching their professional backgrounds. For example you could ask what technologies they used on a previous project that you find interesting, what skills/experience a person should have if he/she wants to join their company/field, etc. These questions will show that you took initiative prior to the event to do research so you could come to the event prepared, and they will probably be impressed by it.

Then after the event, go on LinkedIn (I suggest you create a LinkedIn profile prior to the event) and try to find everyone you talked to and send connection requests to them. Then every once in a while, do something on LinkedIn that will appear in their news feed (e.g. write a status update, update your profile, follow a company, like a company's status, join a LinkedIn group, etc). By appearing in their news feed on a regular basis, you ensure that they won't forget who you are, and that will make it easier for you to contact them later for advice or job opportunities.

Finally, you should definitely show up in a suit to give yourself a more professional look since you've had problems with people thinking you are a teenager. In addition, give your business card to the people you talk to, so they know you are a working professional. If your company didn't give you any business cards, you can easily make your own for a low price on the internet. At the same time that you give your business card to someone, ask for theirs so you have their contact information in case they aren't on LinkedIn.

  • @Blues I just added a paragraph on LinkedIn and added a sentence at the end recommending that you ask for people's business cards. Good luck at the event! – pacoverflow Jul 22 '14 at 0:19
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    In the prior investigation of the attendees and speakers, you might want to check which of them have a LinkedIn and which look like they actually use it. That way, if there is somebody who the LinkedIn thing won't work with, you can try to think of other ways to maintain an open communication channel with them like if they have a blog, a twitter, etc. That way you know to bring it up in conversation. Last thing you want is to come home and find that the best person there isn't a regular of LinkedIn! – RetiredAssistant Jul 22 '14 at 15:12
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The best you might be able to hope for is someone who sees your drive and desire to work somewhere that offers a more modern and fast paced workplace.

Being brutally honest, you don't really sound like you have a lot to offer at this point in your career. Seven months of professional experience in a lack luster environment and a degree isn't anything I'd be excited to hire into my team. I would certainly hope that you found some way in your off hours to advance your technical skills in a professional capacity.

If you're looking for some career advice I'd say that you should show something to a potential employer that clearly demonstrates you are a quality developer, not simply saying you could be one given the right opportunity.

  • i agree, that is why at least i should have a year experience before applying to other companies. Im using this 5mos to learn more about my career path and improve myself. thanks for the answer btw, i must show them how determined i am. – Blues Jul 21 '14 at 14:13

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