A common joke in my family is a quote from my one of my sister’s professors: “Network, network, network. Always be networking, unless you’re drunk, or you smell bad.” As ridiculous as this quote is, it’s 100% true. Constant networking is one of the best ways to find jobs or other opportunities that may lead to jobs. Networking is defined by: [to] interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.
So what does that really mean? And how does one become a master networker? For me, I got lucky. I love talking to people and hearing what they do. Making connections is my thing. For others, I know it doesn’t come so easy, and that is why I created this simple guide to constant networking. Enjoy!
The first step to networking is simply being friendly. I used to work with a young man who thought being rude was a good way to get people to remember him, then after they knew who he was he would rebuild his image into being a smart hard working person you would want to hire. WRONG! Honestly, that might be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. You never want to make a first impression of being rude, mean, or conceited, it might make someone remember you but you you do not want to be remembered as a jerk.
Step two is more important than you might think, learn names. It’s so easy to see someone you knew from class, a former professor, or random acquaintance and give them a nod and a little smile. Saying “Hi Leah, how are you?” helps build a relationship a whole lot better than a simple “Hey.” You will be amazed how much striking up what starts as a small talk conversation might amount to.
Step three, say thank you. In some situations this could be as simple as making sure you thank people for small acts of kindness. It can also be writing thank you notes after job interviews, career fairs, and internships or jobs. Think outside the box when you’re finding people to write thank you’s to. Write them to other interns, people you only met a few times, or just people who influenced you. It is never a bad idea to make someone’s day, so spend a little time saying thank you to anyone and everyone who helped you along the way.
Step four, use social media to network. This one is important. We all are children of the internet and that is a part of our world we can’t get away from, so be careful about what you post. If you are under 21 do not post photos of you drinking, come on, that’s common sense. If you are 21 it is obviously legal for you to drink, but remember to be classy. A photo of your Thanksgiving dinner with a glass of wine, classy. A photo of you doing a keg stand at a frat party, not so classy. Social media can be an amazing way to connect with people and network yourself, but it can also be a way to ruin opportunities with easily avoidable mistakes. Social media is an amazing way to post positive things about your life, awards, work you do, scholarships, those are all positive things to post on social media that can help you have a positive reputation.
Step five is the most important, when thinking about business relationships focus on the relationship, not the business. People can tell if you’re being fake, so be real, be kind, and make relationships that count. Talk to people, and honestly care about what they say, know that everyone you have ever met knows something you don’t, so learn from them.
I know this is not a complete and perfect guide to be the best networker in the world, but it’s a good start. I realize that this is a somewhat abstract guide and not a concrete plan, so the most concrete thing I can say is get out and talk to people. That can be face to face, through email, facebook, or thank you notes, it all works as long as there is positive communication. Keep these things in mind in your college years and beyond, and have a great network.
Of Possible Interest:
- Pinterest Boards: Social Media & Digital Identity; Key to Networking
- Networking Secrets for Introverts
- Networking Events 101
- Developing Your Online Presence
- Social Media: Benefits & How to Use It