Tag Archives: network

Making the Most of Networking

One of our goals this semester is to offer more opportunities for our students to make connections.  With that, we’re switching from one large job and internship fair to smaller, more industry-specific fairs throughout the year.  This will allow students to network more and see what options are available to them, while still being in the comfort zone of their major. As we’ve discussed many times in this blog, networking, no matter how small and relaxed, can still cause anxiety for students.  Don Goodman from Careerealism has some wonderful tips to share for networkers.

  1. Set a realistic goal.  If it’s a large networking event, don’t be determined to meet with every single person.  Use the “quality over quantity” logic and have more meaningful conversations with fewer people.
  2. Be approachable. Networking is a two-way conversation. Be aware of your body language when meeting with recruiters, and don’t be afraid to make small talk while eating hors d’oeuvres. Of course, always remember to smile!
  3. Maintain rapport. Making small talk can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be work-related.  Maintaining rapport is simply keeping the conversation going and learning more about each other as professionals.
  4. Relax! Let the conversation evolve naturally. Giving off a relaxed vibe will feed into the second tip of being approachable. Keep in mind that a networking event or job fair isn’t a competition- it’s an opportunity for you to find quality connections.

To read all of Mr. Goodmans’ article and read his tips in depth, click here: http://www.careerealism.com/networking-events-making-quality-connections/


Make Small Talk, Expand Your Network!

One of our biggest events every fall is So You Think You Can Network.  This gives current students an opportunity to network with professionals and recent alumni. It is a chance for students to practice dressing professionally, use their elevator speech, and establish connections both in and out of their anticipated field. While the majority of our students walk away from the event feeling more confident about themselves, it is usually a huge source of stress before the event kicks off.  One of the most common questions we get beforehand is simply “how do I network?” Students don’t realize that they network all the time with their friends, family, community members, and faculty, simply by communicating with them on a professional level.

Our friends at the Culture and Manners Institute (http://www.cultureandmanners.com/) recently shared a wonderful anecdote about what networking means, and how important conversational skills are while job searching.

“The Etiquette Tip of the Week is a little late this week, as I am just returning from a trip to Japan.  On the way home, on an airplane between Baltimore and Chicago, I sat next to a gentleman in commercial real estate. I asked him what he looked for in job candidates right out of college.’ The main thing I want to know,’ he said, ‘is can they carry on a conversation?’  This is important he explained, because they have to be able to communicate with clients. He said he looks for eye contact, whether they researched the company, if they showed an interest in the company by asking him questions and if they can do all of this without checking or answering their cell phone. Practice your conversation skills.  Strike up a conversation with people around you while you are waiting in line, riding an elevator, waiting for a train or bus, or flying on an airplane. Dive into business networking events offered by your local chamber of commerce or your college alumni organization. Being a good conversationalist is simple: ask questions of the other person.  My conversation with the gentleman on the airplane began with some small talk about air travel.  He said he travels a great deal for work.  So I asked, ‘What do you do for a living?’ Some people will be very easy to talk to, while others will be like talking to a brick wall.  Don’t be discouraged, because it is good experience and part of your process.  The other benefit is you meet some interesting people and sometimes make a good business connection.”

We urge you to take advantage of any opportunity you can to improve your communication skills and feel more confident in your ability to network.  Force yourself to go for an afternoon without even checking your cell phone.  Take time to ask your professors questions during office hours or after class. When you visit a friend’s house, ask their parents about their work and what advice they have for upcoming graduates.  These small gestures will go a long way in helping you present yourself better while networking!

Face Your Fear- Alone!

Yes, we know, networking events can be super scary.  It may seem like a great idea to go with a friend- someone who can be nervous with you, and can help fill in the gaps in conversations.  However, our friends at the Culture and Manners Institute don’t agree. Here’s what they have to say:

“In a list of Top 10 Fears, somewhere after Public Speaking and before Death, falls the Fear of Walking Into a Room Full of Strangers.  None of us wants to spend the evening standing along the wall, feeling like we are at an eighth grade dance.

 But the challenge of networking is we have to go it alone.

 When you bring a friend, it’s like bringing a security blanket.  You may feel more comfortable, but you won’t meet anyone new, because you will have your friend to fall back on for conversation.  Being alone forces you to seek out others.  Bringing a friend also makes you look dependent on others.  You want to let others know you can hold your own.

 Ditto for “Helicopter Mom” at the Career Fair.  Or cradling your cell phone for the entire evening.

If you want to move forward in your career, it’s time to get uncomfortable.  Smile, introduce yourself and give a firm handshake.  It might feel awkward at first, but with each person you meet, your confidence will grow.  And who knows, you might meet the person who will make a difference in your career.  Or make a new friend to not bring the next time.”

Find out more at http://www.cultureandmanners.com

But I Don’t Like to Talk About Myself!

But I Don’t Like to Talk About Myself!

Networking can be difficult.  We get that.  Next week we will offer students an opportunity to practice networking during our “So You Think YOU Can Network?”   Networking can be frustrating because you don’t know what to share with a professional.  On top of that, you’re supposed to introduce yourself through the use of a elevator pitch- a 20-30 second statement all about you without using um, uh, or like.  This article from Careerealism is particularly relevant because it addresses your elevator speech and gives you direction on where to start.  And of course, you can find other networking resources on our website under Guides and Tip Sheets as well as our CareerSpot videos.  To get started, read through the scenario in this article.  If you were Chris, what else would you have considered sharing?  Now, put yourself in Chris’s shoes.  What would YOU say about YOU?

10 Reasons Why You Need LinkedIn

10 Reasons Why You Need LinkedIn

In our office, we actively encourage all of our students to create a LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t take long to create, it’ll upload your resume for you, and it makes it so easy to network! Even if YOU don’t know anyone in your field or at your dream company- one of your connections might! Kristin Johnson at Profession Direction, LLC came up with this great list of 10 Reasons Why You Need a LinkedIn Profile. What do you think? Do you have any other reasons?

Why Networking is Scary, and Why You Shouldn’t be Scared!

Let’s be honest. It’s very rare we meet a person who is totally pumped about walking up to a complete stranger and chatting them up, especially about something professional! I mean, what if they don’t like your tie? Or what if they think girls shouldn’t be in this field? Or what if they just say NO? It’s extremely difficult because you never know what the other person will say or do, or what they think. How do you start a conversation like that??

Some of you may have seen the movie “We Bought a Zoo,” which has a great line in it about only needing 20 seconds of pure courage. This is so true when it comes to networking. All you need is 20 seconds of courage to walk across the room, introduce yourself, and shake hands. In 20 seconds, they can’t say no. Because really, how many times have you walked up to someone and they started waving their hands and ran away screaming “NOOOOOOO NOT YOU!!!!!!”? See? Think about this. If they didn’t want to connect, why would they be at a networking event or schedule an informational interview? Hmmm? The thing that gets to us is the discomfort of not knowing. But you DO know. They wouldn’t be there if it was going to be a No.

Now, it’s important to keep in mind that there are certain things they may say no to. That’s why you shouldn’t ask them for an internship or job right then and there. But they can certainly take your business card or resume.

And never, ever feel like you have to do this alone. Use your alread established network, like on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, if anyone is attending an upcoming networking event. Then maybe you can go there together. Don’t go from person to person together, but you’ll feel better knowing there’s a familiar face in the crowd. Or, if you’re setting up informational interviews, start with a family friend or an alum, and then go out from there.

You are never the only person in the city, state, country, or world, searching for a job or internship. Never.

Just take that leap, stop listening to the voice in your head saying “NO NO NO NO I DON’T WANT TO!” and use that 20 seconds of courage.