Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Networking For Dummies!

   
  As a college student we are almost always communicating with others and, hopefully, in the middle of all the wild parties and boba runs, we are working to build a more stable future. In order to do this you will need a good foundation built by the power of networking. A network is a compilation of people who you can contact in order to do business and/or receive or give services or job opportunities. Having a strong network can help open doors for you, as well as help you open doors for others. Having a bad network is like having an unorganized stack of business cards, because that is what that is. Networking can be a hassle, but all the work is worth it. Here is a list of questions to ask yourself as you travel the world of networking.

1. What is your goal?
Always have a clear goal before you start anything. They say it is all about the climb, but the destination is just as important. Plan ahead. 
You may want to:
       Advertise yourself/label
       Land a position at a company
       Learn more about an industry and get tips from professionals to better your company or your approach
       Get on a company's radar and receive periodic updates 
However, remember that this is a two-way street. Keep in mind what the other party wants. Ask what you could do to help them. Be ready to reciprocate. Give and you shall receive.

2. Do you anyone in the business you want to enter?
A good place to start, especially with those less experienced in networking, is with the people you know. It is much easier to discuss business with a familiar face and they could also introduce you, as well as vouch for your skills, to others in the business.

3. Why am I apologizing?
People tend to apologize when they are nervous. It is said that apologizing for advertising yourself or asking questions or even nothing can show a lack of confidence and conviction. You do not have to overly confident, but apologizing for nothing can hurt you image. Be confident and "fake it until you make it."

4. What am I going to say?
This is probably one of the more difficult parts of networking, the "speech." Have a short "elevator speech" ready to present to any potential employer or important contact that showcases your skills perfectly. If the conversation continues, another skill that will come in handy is the ability to create small talk. To make it easier, find common ground between you and the other party. This will create an exchange where both of you can contribute your own experiences and bond even further. Once both parties become comfortable in each other's presence, the discussion can lead to the exchanging of information and then more updates and meetings down the road, and even introductions to others in the inner circle further growing your network.

5. When was the last time I reached out to my network?
Remember that your network is made up of people, not contacts, and keeping in touch is very important. Frequent updates can keep your name in the circle and showcase your progression in the field. Remember that your services may be needed at anytime, so staying in the loop and maintaining your relationships can help in the long run.

If there is anything about networking that you should remember, it is that it is quality over quantity. Always have good intent and be generous. This relationship is mutual, so remember to give back as much as you take.

-Renz

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