Change the way you network
As the end of the academic year comes to a sudden close, most of us are applying for jobs this summer, graduating, or just looking for ways to step up our networking career game.
I know. Networking. We hear a lot about this important career skill and it can be daunting to think about getting started. What I’ve learned, though, is that networking isn’t about asking for a job or a favour; it’s about building genuine relationships and connections with people.
For instance, once I was on the phone with a potential employer doing an interview for a future job. Upon realizing that it wasn’t a suitable opportunity for me, we proceeded to thank each other for the time and efforts spent, and were about to hang up.
I then asked her “Do you need anything from me?” I should tell you that she was really shocked at the question. She responded “Uhh… wow it’s the first time someone has asked me that… haha… I do actually.” She proceeded with her request for another hire potentially interested in the offered position.
I sent her one of my contacts and she thanked me kindly.
A week later, I received an email with a potential resource that I could use to further my career path – Incredible!
She had remembered me 😀
What could have been a quick phone call with an employer, has now become a mutually beneficial relationship! So as foreign as it may sound at first, I’ve learned to always offer my help, and I recommend you guys do the same – keep these relationships alive!
You never know the benefits that can come out of maintaining them.
For those of you sitting in the same boat, I’ve put together some thoughts that might be helpful.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Today, with technologies advancing, make a habit of online networking, adding people of credibility and relevance to your field of interest. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account yet, I highly recommend you start one – as this is probably the best and most common professional network. LinkedIn has a mountain of resources, articles and free courses you can take online to further develop your professional mind. Start following organizations and become a member of groups that align with your interests on social media so your newsfeeds will be rich with material to learn and events to attend.
The more people you know and follow, the more opportunity you will be exposed to!
Another thing is to keep connections sociable whenever you have the chance. People are more likely to enjoy the company of and invest into those they can relate to.
– Next time you meet with an employer, try to find out their interests outside of work (whether researching beforehand, following on social media, or throughout conversation).
– Want to ask for an informational interview? Ask to meet up for “lunch” instead.
– During an interview, employers are not only looking for technical qualifications. They also gauge whether you will be a good “cultural fit” or not – essentially asking, “Can I picture myself having coffee with this person?” “Will other people in the company get along with this person?”
Some people have a passion to share. Others don’t.
So, here’s a tip. Next time you are on a social network and see a post by someone you admire – share it! Help spread their message. Read a fascinating article that may be of interest to said person and send it to them! (Be wary not to bombard them though; no one likes to be spammed. The key is to show interest and initiative, not suffocate the person).
CREATE A PERSONAL BRAND
In the business world, confidence is important. This means that knowing who you are and what you stand for is crucial. I remain convinced that remaining aware of your personal values, your passions, what drives you, what motivates you, your goals and your personal mission are large contributing factors to your success.
Here at the SSC, we have career development workshops that can help you realize so many things about yourself, your career focus, values and personal mission.
Once you have that figured out, condense the most important points about yourself in 2/3 sentences. What you come up with is called your elevator pitch. Repeat these positive qualities and goals to stay focused.
Rest assured that creating a strong and consistent personal brand both online and offline makes you more memorable and easy to find when you may be needed.
So, I highly recommend you introduce yourself like this to everyone you meet. Again- this is a foreign concept, I know. Nowadays we all like to look at our phones or sit in silence and make awkward eye contact with those around us. But try introducing yourself in public places: waiting for a bus, after a conference, and especially while formally networking.
I’m a strong believer in the mantra “Everybody knows somebody, and that somebody can help you.”
Contrary to what you have been taught as children, in the words of motivational speaker, Stuart Knight, “make it your goal to talk to one stranger every day – you never know what you can learn!”
“We have too much fear” he says. “We are only born with 2 fears: Falling over and loud noises. The others are socially conditioned.”
So, I made a pact to shut out my socially constructed fears for just one day.
That day, I walked into a health and wellness restaurant. I was waiting for my food and to kill some time, I introduced myself to the other people waiting in line. 20 minutes later, I had made a new friend, got a relevant-career contact and even had lunch with a personal trainer, who I am now volunteering with – and who had worked with a mutual friend of mine!
Again- I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E advice.
The world is smaller than you think. Be that person who smiles and initiates conversation. (:
The most effective communicators are the ones who choose to make people feel important. As people, we love to feel exciting, heard, funny, intriguing, trusted, respected and we like to know that we matter.
If you can elicit these feelings in a person, just know that you already exhibit a higher level of emotional IQ than most.
All too often today we are accustomed to what Stuart refers to as “surface conversation”: the who, what, when and where of a person’s life. To stand out from the crowd and create deeper, more meaningful relationships with the people you talk to, I’ll give you one simple task:
Start asking “WHY”.
Believe it or not, this may be the simplest, but most powerful question in the world. It is how you discover what’s going on beneath that “surface conversation” – the real path in advancing your conversations. Helping you figure out your own why, as well as an employee’s why, or even a stranger’s why gives the interaction depth – an opportunity for people to talk about themselves, what drives them, and what hinders them. Through learning people’s stories, we learn about the world.
More people. More confidence. More exposure. More opportunity.
– Mariam (:
About the Author
Mariam Khalil blogged for the Student Success Centre from 2016 to 2017.