When you hear the term 'professional networking', what is your initial reaction?
If it is fear, you are far from alone. Networking can be uncomfortable, awkward, or even frustrating. The good news is networking can be a lot more approachable than you think.
In today's competitive job market, networking can be even more valuable than creating a great resume or a perfect cover letter. Given the stress than is often associated with applying to jobs, it is easy to forget that people hire people. In building your professional network, you are building relationships with other professionals, which can lead to 'a good word' on your behalf, learning about positions before they are publicly posted, your name being recognized on your application, or a number of other positive benefits. Below are recommendations on how to Network successfully.
Show the type of person you would be as an employee. Don't try and be perfect, networking is an opportunity to engage with someone on a personal level. Have fun with it.
It's incredible to see what people do when networking. From making sexual advances to being sloppy drunk to telling stories about how to stick it to the man, just don't do it. Be the person someone wants to hire, not the person who is fired before they even step in the door.
When you are in a networking setting, it is, or should, be understood everyone is there for this reason. It is acceptable to ask something of a new acquaintance you meet in this setting, just make sure your first ask is something small. 'The Ask' should only grow once a relationship is established.
Networking Events occur regularly in cities big and small throughout the United States. They are typically held in bars or other social venues after working hours. These events can be a great way to meet other professionals living and working in your geographic area.
LinkedIn is the world's largest professional networking platform. There is tons of information online about how to create a great LinkedIn profile, so do your research and make a profile that is right for you. Once your profile is up, start connecting with people, not just those you know, but people in your geographic area, industry, professional, college alumni, etc.
This is one of the biggest asks regularly made in a networking setting. Realize anyone who does this for you is putting their personal reputation on the line. Unless you know someone very well, avoid this question at all cost.