June 24, 2021
TLDR: Networking is unnatural and awkward – this drop outlines effective strategies that position you to succeed in networking environments and land your dream job.
Key Take Aways:
Imagine a crowded room, full of prospective employers dressed to the nines, having conversations with groups of students and professionals (competition) that are eager to make an impression. How do you introduce yourself? What are you going to talk about? Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it?
Professional networking isn’t easy, and it’s not natural to break into a closed circle of peers and recruiters and jump into the middle of a conversation. The good news is, there are effective strategies to ease the awkwardness and prepare for a networking event, career fair, or even a conversation with someone that might benefit you professionally. This drop shares a few effective strategies for preparing, easing the tension, and leaving an impression as you build your network.
1. What’s the point?
The first step in successful networking is to determine why you want to have a conversation in the first place. Are you looking for a new job, looking to learn more, looking for connections that might benefit you down the road, or are you just interested to learn? There is no right answer - but identifying why you are having the conversation can help you set goals for your interactions.
Pro-tip: Network because you want to, not because you should.
2. Set goals and objectives for the conversation.
Before networking in a professional context, you should set a few goals for your conversation. These goals should summarize what you want to get out of the conversation. For example, if I am at a career fair looking for a new job, my goals for the conversation might be something like:
Although simple, these goals give me a framework for the conversation, and will likely leave me with a better understanding of how I can apply my experiences when interviewing for the role. It may also lead to additional connections who can shed a different perspective on the candidate the company is looking for. You may find it useful to write these in question format, so you have ammunition if the conversation naturally dies down.
3. Conduct research and refine your elevator pitch.
Who knew that creeping on Facebook or Instagram would translate into a professional skill? It’s as simple as scrolling through your ex-girlfriend’s Instagram feed to see what she’s been up to. Before connecting with someone, you may conduct some research on what they’re all about or what they’ve been up to recently. This will help with small talk and give the impression that you are prepared and informed on the company, job, or community you’ll be a part of if you get hired. A few things you may want to research:
The Elevator Pitch
In addition to researching the company, you should prepare to talk about yourself and your experiences. The elevator pitch is a notorious strategy for introducing yourself. Imagine walking into a building and seeing your idol (e.g. Elon Musk, Michael Jordan, Bethany Frankel, Beyoncé) in the elevator. You have 30 seconds to introduce yourself and make a lasting impression without fanboying/girling too hard. What would you say?
Practicing a 30 second introduction where you introduce yourself, your education, experience, and interests is a great way to break the ice and make an impression. The elevator pitch is crucial for networking in any industry, and once you have it down, you’ll be much more confident breaking into that circle of suits.
4. Get in the zone.
You may not have access to Ray Lewis in a pregame huddle or an empowering pep talk from Michelle Obama, however, spend some time getting hyped up. A few tips for getting in the zone:
In order to achieve your networking objectives, you must listen to the insight that the recruiter provides. It’s obvious when someone is thinking about the next question they want to ask or talking about themselves too much. Actively listen to the recruiter, gather insight, achieve your objectives, and the impression will make itself. It may be helpful to have a small notebook with you to jot down a few key take aways. This will also indicate that you are serious about the conversation.
6. The Exit.
No matter how well the conversation flows, it’s important to have an intentional exit strategy. Before exiting the conversation, make sure you ask a few quick questions that will enable you to act. A few questions you might ask are:
These questions indicate that you are serious about the position, and willing to go the extra mile to land it.
7. Following up.
Typically, recruiters will have business cards with them. Always ask for a business card or contact information from each person you talk to. Send them a follow up email thanking them for their time. This will reinforce any impression you made and remind them of your interest and fit for the position. You may include a digital copy of your resume, so they have a summary of your experience in their inbox.
Following these tips for successful networking will help you prepare, ease the tension, and make a lasting impression as you break into that circle of suits. Don’t think of networking as ‘networking’, instead think of it as a conversation - no different than you’d have with family, friends, or classmates – and you’ll land your dream job in no time.
June 24, 2021
June 24, 2021