Friday, January 29, 2016

The works of networking

“I don’t need to talk to people and network to get a job.”

Have you ever had a version of this thought when networking was mentioned? If you haven’t, then congratulations on avoiding a big hurdle! However, if you have, then like me, you know the feeling of dread that follows.

Networking doesn’t have to just be about scoring a job; it can be a rewarding experience at any stage of your professional life. Networking provides you with the opportunity to meet people that are in a career you’re aiming for, and information about the path they took. It can even introduce you to new careers you never considered before. Here are some tips to make networking a better experience, no matter what your comfort level is.

Get comfortable with the idea of networking
Many people are uncomfortable because they feel that they’re using people to get a job, but you shouldn’t look at networking this way. The people you meet at these events have similar professional interests with you. Connect with them to get to know them as who they are and what they do, and offer back your own experiences to engage in a conversation. When you make yourself more relatable, they’ll get to know you more and offer relevant information about the path they took to get to where they are now, offer resources, or even introduce you to other people with similar interests.

Prepare something to talk about beforehand
You may have heard of this as the “elevator pitch.” You don’t need to have a spiel memorized, but consider having some relevant points that summarize yourself, such as why you’re attending this particular event, what your current position is, or what path you’re on and where you want go. I personally like to keep some points in mind that I know I can expand on.

Enter conversations!
Maybe you heard someone say something interesting or you’ve been wanting to talk to a specific person. Sometimes, you’ll be able to naturally join into a conversation. Whether or not it’s easy, you should make your presence known by introducing yourself and saying why you wanted to join in the conversation (for example, “Hi, I couldn’t help but overhear you talking about X”).

Know how to exit conversations
I used to think the biggest problem was initiating a conversation with someone, until I found out that it was just as hard to leave one. If you feel that the conversation is starting to end and there isn’t much left to be said, politely take your exit (try: “it was great meeting you, and I will definitely look into the organization you mentioned”) and ask for information to stay in contact.

Keep in touch
Stay in contact by exchanging business cards or adding them on LinkedIn. In the next 48 hours, send them a message that includes where you met and personalize it by mentioning a topic that was discussed. LinkedIn is a great tool to develop your professional network and you can come to the AACC to have someone look over and review your LinkedIn profile.

If you meet someone who you would like to know more about, you can follow up with them to see if they would be willing to set up an informational interview and answer some of the questions you have. You can meet with a Career Counsellor at the AA&CC if you have more questions!

The next step is to now put your skills into use. Take a look at the networking opportunities and check CLN regularly for different events coming up! 

Good luck! 


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