You’ve heard this everywhere – from your teachers, your parents, your mentor, and just about anyone else who gives you job advice. As overused as it may be, this old adage is very, very true.
But, what if you weren’t born into a family filled with executives who work in your industry? Or what if your next door neighbor isn’t the hiring manager at the company you dream of working at? Well, then, it’s time to network.
Not sure where to start? Here are five tips for every networking newbie to remember:
Networking Is All About the Give (Not the Take)
Networking is mutual, just like any other relationship. Don’t go into a networking event talking only about yourself and asking others for favors (i.e. a connection, internship, or job). Let the other person speak, and learn how you could be a resource for them in the future.
Bring Those Business Cards (But Keep Them in Your Pocket)
It’s important for every young student or professional to have a business card. (Not sure where to get one? Check out this post for job seekers on getting a business card.) If someone offers you their business card or you make a mutual connection with someone, feel free to give them your card. However, don’t just hand them out to whoever, whenever – you’ll look pushy and not very genuine.
Don’t Be Lured by Free Food
If you’re a beginning networker who happens to be a college student, you’re sure to love free food. (Something other than Ramen noodles? Score!) And, it just so happens that most networking events feature a lot of free food. However, always remember that you’re at that event to network and meet others – which is pretty difficult to do with your mouth full. My best advice is to eat before you go and get yourself a non-alcoholic drink at the event. This will give you something to do with your hands and still allow you to actively engage in conversation.
Always Follow Up
A network isn’t a series of one-time meet-and-greets. It’s a network of connections that you continuously strengthen through regular contact. Therefore, make your connections last after that initial meeting. Email a contact after meeting them by thanking them for talking and mentioning one specific thing that you talked about. Request the individual on LinkedIn. Consider following them on Twitter. Don’t over communicate (you don’t want to annoy the person!), but regularly check in (every few months) to keep the relationship going.
Practice Makes Perfect
Are you going to be comfortable at your first networking event? No! Your second? Nope. Your third? Perhaps. Networking is a learned skill, which means you have to practice. The more you network, the more comfortable you’ll become, and before you know it, you’ve grown quite a professional network. Good luck!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at endlessjoboffers.com!
About the Author: Abby (Stollar) Ecker is a Public Relations Coordinator for ATI Physical Therapy. She graduated from the University of Delaware in 2012 with a B.A. in Mass Communication and minors in Political Science, Political Communication, and Journalism. While in college, she served as the president of her school’s PRSSA Chapter, led a team to present at the 2011 PRSSA National Conference, and received the 2011 PRSA Public Affairs and Government Grant. To learn more, visit her website at www.abbystollar.com or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.