Many hospitality jobs are found by tapping into networks rather than traditional job seeking sites. Having the ability to create a rich network will not only provide you with opportunities to expedite your pathway through the hospitality industry, it will open the door to opportunities you may have never thought were available.
Anthony Mitri is the Director of Innovation, Industry, and Employability at Torrens University Australia. Below he reflects on his experiences within the hospitality industry and has put together some tips that helped him discover his calling.
- Get to know your classmates
As you sit in class dreaming of being hospitality’s “Next Big Thing”, just remember…your peers are going to be having the exact same thoughts. The classroom is the best place to start building a network of like-minded people who share common interests. Make as many friends as you can and make the effort to stay in touch. You never know who your boss could be one day.
- Develop an elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a persuasive speech that sparks interest in what you do. Think about those weekend barbeques when someone asks “so what do you do?” Most of us struggle to answer this without saying things like, “well, basically…ummm”. A great elevator pitch should be short, sharp, and most importantly, engaging. This pitch should go for about 20-30 seconds (same time as a regular elevator ride…hence the name) and make the person listening want to ask more questions. There are many examples of what a great elevator pitch should sound like. My advice is to make it sound authentic.
- Attend industry-run events
There generally isn’t much time left in the week once you dedicate yourself to work and study. Hospitality professionals are often time poor and are therefore always on the lookout for ways to get things done efficiently and effectively. Industry expos and fairs are a fantastic way of getting face-time with many industry folk in a short period of time. Whether they’re being run by your school or being run by industry associations, getting to these events will allow you to be seen and heard.
- Get comfortable in your own skin
The hospitality industry is built on communication. There’s nothing worse than speaking to someone who sounds like they’re reading from a script. Start to use language you’re comfortable with, remembering that the language you use when speaking to others will make a lasting impression. Your communication skills are vital, but don’t just focus on the spoken word, as body language is vital as well.
Up to 65% of the message you are trying to convey is non-verbal. So make sure you’re not only comfortable with what you’re saying, get comfortable with how you’re saying it… practice, practice, practice. I used to prepare for presentations by running through them in front of a mirror (just prepare your family or roommates for this in case they walk in on you!). I needed to get comfortable speaking to myself before I could speak to others. And make sure you avoid “ummm” and “like”. A technique I use to overcome this is staying silent while I think about the next thing to say. You will come across as more professional with silence as opposed to ‘over-umming’.
- Develop your knowledge base
Being able to speak confidently about what’s going on in the industry is not only going to help with your studies, but it will showcase to people that you know what you’re talking about. This is a skill that will take time to develop, but one that will help you build a powerful network. It’s a great tool to build your confidence as well as showcasing to others your standing within the industry.
Reading up on what the Kardashians are up to might be entertaining, but this is definitely not going to help you build your professional network. Reading up on new restaurant openings, what hotels are doing in terms of décor and what the latest eating trends are will help you become confident when talking to experienced professionals about the hospitality industry.
I hope these tips will help you discover where in this amazing industry you would like to land.