Professors, parents, and peers alike say the same thing; make sure to network. Well, what does networking really mean and how exactly does it benefit you? First, let us take a step back and see exactly what networking is. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “ the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically, the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” So essentially, networking helps you find connections for a job. Yet there is more to it.
Networking can be looked at as just a way to find jobs, but also as a professional friend pool of people who share common careers as you. There is an art to networking, and young professionals should begin to practice this skill early in their college career. Here are some tips for you:
Take the Extra Step:
In networking, do not be afraid to show them that you have gone that extra mile and are not afraid to take on challenges. If a professional gives you their contact information, do not be afraid to send polite emails every few months to keep in touch. Emails around the holidays, or just things to keep you in their minds.
Also, to prepare for internships, ask for extra work in clubs. Don’t be afraid to try and fail, it is all a part of learning. Also, admit that failure and what you learned when networking. Always thank professionals for their time. Send thank you notes and show your appreciation without messaging them every week. Be professional and polite, it will pay off.
Listen and Learn:
When networking as a young professional, one of the best things you can do is listen. Ask questions of to show you have listened and done your research on them and their company. As a college student, employers know you are not as experienced as they are, so do not pretend to be. They were in your shoes once and will be more than happy to teach you.
Listen, ask questions, and take notes. Admitting you need to learn is one of the biggest steps to take in order to achieve your goals.
No one likes a phony person, especially business professionals who are taking time out of their busy schedules to talk to college kids. If you are not interested in something, do not lie to network with someone. Lying is never the way to get a job because you will get caught in a lie. Be honest about who you are and your interests. Do not lie on a resume. If you do not know a lot about stocks or web design, do not say you do, instead say you would like to learn. Honestly is always the best policy.
Check out these sources for more tips.
Networking. (n.d.). Retrieved March 03, 2018, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/networking
Speisman, S. (2018, February 28). 10 Tips for Successful Business Networking. Retrieved March 26, 2018, from https://www.businessknowhow.com/tips/networking.htm
Lauren Sheil is a freshman journalism major. Give her a shout out on Twitter @laurensheil101.