Question to Keep You Up at Night

How do you network with people?

It’s all about who you know…

This is a skill I was never taught in school, yet seems to be one of those skills that are actually a really big deal. Of course, the classes that you take and the grades that you get are all building up to something. If you do well in school, you’ll hopefully go to college, and if you do well in college, then hopefully, you’ll get a job, right? Well, I feel like there are some missing steps. How does one go from the classroom to a job? Where do you find these opportunities?

It’s all about who you know…

Be looking for the connections from the very beginning. While it might feel like it’s unlikely you’ll find a future employer while in class, you’d be surprised how many of your teachers, professors, administrators, or friends’ parents have connections that might interest you. Having those people around you, and having a connection to them (being their students, friends with their kids, or just going to the same school they work at) gives you a huge advantage already. It may not seem like it, but compared to a complete stranger, your connection makes someone more likely to help you.

You aren’t wasting anyone’s time. One of the scariest parts of networking is asking someone for a favor. It feels intrusive, or demanding. But, think of it this way: as long as you are respectful of their time and decisions, there is no harm in asking. There is a high chance that who ever you are asking was in your position once, and understands that it can be nerve-wracking and vulnerable to ask for help and guidance.

Find that happy-medium between persistent and respectful. It’s okay to lobby for yourself. And being persistent often helps when trying to get an job or internship opportunity; it shows employers that you are committed and that you really want this job. But refrain from being determined. Sometimes people will say no. They will turn down getting coffee with you, or giving you an internship. Nagging them for a second chance isn’t going to change their mind; it’s going to reinforce their decision not to meet with you in the first place. That’s the time to respect their decisions, be understanding, and wait for the next job opening.

Handshakes and eye contact works wonders. In instances when you meet someone that you think could offer opportunities, first impressions are vital. Though it can be nerve-wracking to walk up to a stranger and introduce yourself, it can leave a lasting impression. Tell them who you are, maybe comment on their job and why it interests you, and be engaged. If someone feels like you are actually curious and interested, that will stick with them, and perhaps help you later when you ask them for a favor.

 

 

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