More Than a Cocktail Party

Over the weekend, my company co-hosted, with two of our industry partners, an evening reception for students and faculty members attending the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago.  The venue we selected offered stunning panoramic views of the city, there was an array of delicious appetizers and desserts, and vino options for those who were of legal drinking age.

Some of the students viewed the event as an opportunity to enjoy some free food.  These students stacked their plates high and isolated themselves at their group tables, more focused on each other than engaging with the company representatives in the room.

However, there were a group of students that recognized that this event was not just a cocktail party.  These students viewed the event as an opportunity, an opportunity to network, to highlight their personal brand, and make valuable connections.  These students stood out to the recruiters in the room and here’s what made them successful.

Advance Planning

The invitation for the reception indicated the three companies that were hosting and of course would be in attendance.  These students came armed with freshly printed copies of their resume. (If you seal it in an envelope with your cover letter, it’s inconspicuous, easy to carry and hand off to the recruiter of your choice.)  They researched the companies, and gathered information on their career offerings and presence in the industry.

Conversation Starters

One of these students opened her conversation with me by extending congratulations on our company’s recent recognition as an “Ideal Employer”.   She then explained how the fact that we were included on the list further affirmed her interest in working for us after graduation. She appeared genuine and peppered her conversation with 1-2 more details that showed me she did her research.  She made more of a lasting impression on me than the students who opened with the question “can you tell me more about your company?”

When you’re sifting through the various company websites, blogs, and press releases of a prospective company, look for items that you can utilize to start a conversation, details that connect with you personally so that you’re able to speak with passion and demonstrate your preparation.

Use Your Time Wisely

Depending upon the student-recruiter ratio of an event, you may not get one on one time with every company that interests you.  Prioritize the companies that most interest you, and focus on getting face time with at least your top two choices.  You may want to view the LinkedIn profiles of key individuals to learn more about them and view a recent photo.  This will also help you to identify each representative much more quickly if they aren’t wearing their company name tag or branded attire.


Lastly, recognize that you are representing your personal brand and how well you do so often indicates to recruiters how effectively you’ll represent their brand.  Consider your attire carefully, selecting clothing that both reflects your personality and aligns with the image of your chosen prospective company.  If you’re of legal drinking age and alcohol is offered, be sure to know your limits.  You may also want to consider sticking with water and non-alcoholic beverage options. After working so hard on your plan to networking successfully, the last thing you want is to be less than your most impressive self.



Ronisha is one of Hyatt’s College Recruiting Managers.  Hyatt’s College Recruiters visit more than 30 college campuses each year recruiting top talent at hospitality programs across the country.  A graduate of The Ohio State University, Ronisha begin her Hyatt career as a Human Resources Corporate Management Trainee.  During her ten years with Hyatt, she has worked at Hyatt Hotels in Orlando, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey.  To learn more about opportunities with Hyatt please visit, follow Hyatt on twitter @hyattcareers, become a Hyatt Facebook fan at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Careers and follow the Campus Recruiter blog at

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2 Responses to “More Than a Cocktail Party”

  1. Great points, Ronisha. However, when you are not given a list of companies you are not able to prepare before attending the events. One tip I would give is to keep your smartphone close to you and if you see the company name on their name badges, do a quick Google search and find out what the company is about. Try not to look too pre-occupied with the phone though! That would look a bit rude.

  2. Great suggestion Rhonda! I appreciate the comment!

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