Written on 2/4 by Catherine Eifrig, Sophomore Strategic Communications-PR Major and Digital Media Production Minor
Networking. It seems simple enough: go to a conference and walk around and introduce yourself to make connections for what will hopefully be future employment. The Butler University Internship and Career Services, ICS, office calls it “ the key to finding internship and job opportunities.” Networking, in reality, is a very intimidating task. So how do you navigate your way through the crazy networking world? I have a few tips and tricks to make networking as easy as possible.
A tweet chat from PRSA said that one important thing to remember about networking is that it can happen anywhere, which is good and bad. For example, networking can happen while waiting in line, at a volunteer event, visiting a new place or most commonly at a professional meeting.
My first tip: treat networking like a mini-interview. When you go to make a move on a possible contact, make sure you introduce yourself and anyone who might be with you. Introductions are the first impression the person will have of you, so it is important to make a good initial impression.
Jobbankusa.com says to have a “positioning statement” in your head ready to explain who you are. The statement should be like a mini-verbal resume. Highlight your biggest accomplishments that the possible connection would be interested in. If you are head of finance club and you are trying to get a job in finance, mention finance club. This statement should explain “who you are professionally.”
My second tip: do not rely on business talk alone. You are trying to make an impression and while listing all the activities and achievements you have reached is great for a resume, it makes for a lousy conversation. Butler ICS says to “try to build relationships before you need them;” that way when you are out of a job or searching for one it is not a stretch to call the connection, ask how they are and then ask for help with a job. Have a conversation on a personal level.
My third tip is to stop being shy. Butler ICS gives the advice to practice conversation with random people who don’t relate to networking and possible future employment, such as a person in the same elevator as you. This way when the time comes to start a conversation with a complete stranger who does matter for future job opportunities, it will not be a scary idea.
My fourth tip is to utilize social media as another opportunity. Chances are you have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and many other social media outlets. The first half of this tip: remove anything that you would not want your grandmother to see. If your grandmother wouldn’t want to see it do you think a future employer would want to?
The second half of this tip is to start early. Especially on LinkedIn, build a profile of yourself and keep it updated much like your resume. On Facebook talk up good things you do about your job. Did your blog post get published on your club’s website? Make a status about it. One thing to keep in mind though according to socialmediaexaminer.com is to not overly update, “communicate and educate. Don’t inundate.”
My fifth and last tip is to make sure you follow up with connections. Butler ICS recommends an e-mail within 48 hours of making the connection. Also, if you go to another professional gathering and see that a connection is there be sure to talk to them again and talk more about yourself and the other person. Add another detail about yourself when talking to your connection. Keep in mind to not only talk about possible jobs, make a personal connection.
Networking can be a strange, confusing and somewhat intimidating process. I hope these tips help you navigate your way at the next professional luncheon. If you keep these tips in mind, it’ll seem easier then it was before. Just remember not to spill your food all over the place when you introduce yourself.