Networking at #SCD2017 and TCI EXPO


Networking… it’s one of those things that comes so easily to some people, and makes other people want to skip it entirely. As you prepare to leave school and start working, networking could be the key to helping you find a job. Here are some tips for how to network at SCD and TCI EXPO:

Develop an elevator pitch.
Your elevator pitch should be short – just 60-90 seconds, i.e.: short enough to introduce yourself, but long enough to give a bit of extra information for context. Use this formula:

Hi, my name is _____________ and I ____________ (this can be your hook). I will be graduating from __________ with a degree in ___________. I’m looking to ______________ (this is your goal – a job? An internship?). I have done _____________ (something that supports your goal and shows that you’re actively working towards it).

Depending on the person you’re speaking to, you might finish your pitch by asking for advice, for a connection to someone in their network, or for a job or internship opportunity.
Write your elevator speech down and practice it until you have it memorized!

Dress appropriately.
Your first impression is a lasting one. True, many jobs in the tree care industry call for casual attire, but we suggest you dress slightly better than the position you’re interested in. So if you’re looking to join a tree care company’s crew, consider wearing a pair of khakis or a dark pair of jeans and a polo or a pressed shirt. It certainly can’t hurt! Just make sure your clothes are clean, that you’re well-groomed and that you’re not wearing too much cologne or perfume, and you’ll be fine!

Once you’ve made a connection, check in occasionally.
Say you made an awesome connection at TCI EXPO and you grabbed their business card… the next time you see an article that person might like, or an article about their company, email them a link and say hello. However, remember that they’re probably pretty busy, so be respectful of their time by keeping the email short and sweet, and don’t email them frequently. Be sure to pick the opportunities that will make the most impact!

Don’t trash talk.
The tree care industry is pretty small. There’s a good chance that the person you’re speaking to might know, or know of, the other people and companies you talk about. Don’t say anything negative about any connections you’ve made, or about past employers (or even professors!). It makes you look unprofessional. This one goes hand-in-hand with the next tip…

Don’t burn bridges.
As you work your way through school and gain experience in the field, you might encounter people who drive you crazy… it happens! But there’s something to be said for maintaining a professional relationship with those people. Chris Ahlum, SCD sponsor and co-owner of Ahlum & Arbor Tree Preservation, suggests that you be aware that if you’ve left an environment on bad terms, it might pop up if future employers call your past employers or anyone you list as a reference (which you should always hand-pick and ask them if you can use them for a reference before you provide their contact information!). You don’t want to be known as the person who left in flames.

We hope you find these tips helpful as you prepare for Student Career Days and TCI EXPO this November. Networking can be daunting, but just remember – tree care companies want to talk to you because they’re always looking for great help. Plus, they haven’t always been in the position they’re currently in – at one point, they were in your shoes, too!