It's been a while, but I recently wrote an article about networking for young professionals which will be published in a local counselors newsletter, and so I wanted to share some great networking tips and how-to's with you!
Ever hear the term, “It’s not what you know… it’s who you know?” Networking plays a key role in our development as a professional. But how do we network effectively? What is the best way to begin networking in my field or industry? Here are some tips to help you learn the art of networking:
1. Talk to everyone around you. Don’t leave anyone out. Be sure that your family, friends, neighbors, professors, and colleagues all know who you are, your background, and what type of position you are looking for. When networking people often forget about their family and never realize that they may hold the ticket to helping you find your next great opportunity.
2. Be prepared and know your message. Be able to present yourself by giving your 60-second commercial. 60-seconds filled with information about you, your degree/ experiences, leadership qualities, and what you hope to achieve.
3. Stay positive, focused and persistent at all times. Know how to begin a conversation with others by offering a firm handshake and a smile as you introduce yourself clearly and confidently. Although it may be tough out there and you may not have beginners luck with landing the position of your dreams, you have to believe that with hard work and dedication that your time will come.
4. Keep learning. Stay up-to-date with current events. Read the newspaper. Subscribe to professional newsletters or blogs. Familiarize yourself with not just one particular position or one company, but with many in the industry or field in which you hope to secure a position. This will help you engage and sustain conversation with professionals.
5. Join a professional organization related to your interests. This is a great way to meet people with experience and engage in professional development. Most organizations will offer low cost membership fees to students and young professionals. Attend workshops and seminars to help advance your skills.
6. Carry a business card. Young professionals, employed or unemployed and college students should have a business card. After introductions have been made and the conversation comes to a close, exchange business cards. Then be sure to follow up in a reasonable amount of time (within 24-48 hours of the meeting) and express your gratitude for meeting and taking the time to speak with you. It is a small gesture, but it could lead up to something big, you just never know.
7. Be social. Social media is a great way to network and meet people. Using social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can help you connect with professionals and grow your network. LinkedIn is a great way to find professional organizations and groups. Start out slow so it doesn’t become too overwhelming. Post a question or answer a question on a board on LinkedIn. “Re-tweet” or reply to a linked article of interest or topic on Twitter. Become a “fan” of a professional organization on Facebook and post a fan comment. Just be sure to conduct yourself professionally on social sites and remember that no matter how private your settings, anyone can see what they want to see in the cyber world.