Last week was all about the interview; this week: networking. In the past, I used to absolutely dread networking events. My heart would start beating like crazy, and I’d stand off to the side, pretending my cheese plate was the most fascinating thing in the world. (And it kinda was—brie is pretty tasty.) But I’ve started to view networking a little differently. It’s not so bad after all and can even lead to some awesome opportunities (and new friends or mentors if you play your cards right). Here’s my best advice on how to network:
Make it your own: Networking can mean a room full of people and fancy hors d’oeuvres, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Networking is about making connections beyond your own already established circles. Your friend’s aunt who owns her own consulting company? Ask your friend to make an introduction, and maybe you both will find yourselves at Starbucks talking about career goals. That neighbor who is going to your dream school? Knock on that door over the holidays! I’ve found that networking is more invigorating and worthwhile when I can open up the space to talk with people moreso than the other way around.
Get social media savvy: I know I have mentioned this more than a few times in Amanda’s Corner, but social media works wonders for networking. You never know when a tweet could lead to a conversation, which could lead to a job. It’s a real thing. Trust me.
Everyone feels the same way you do: If I ever find myself in a big, seemingly scary room full of people for a networking event, I remind myself that almost everyone feels the same way I do, unless they’ve been working it for years. Networking doesn’t always come naturally for people. But it’s all about putting on that game face and going for it.
Here’s my card: Before ending a networking sesh, it’s always a good idea to give the person you’re talking to your business card. It’s a great way for that person to remember you and easily have your contact info at the ready. This is advice I need to take myself—my college offered graduating seniors the opportunity to order their own business cards, and I can’t believe I never took advantage of that! Guess this means I will have to make some on my own time. After all, you never know whom you might run into!
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