10 Tips for Networking
‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Networking is one of the keys to a successful career, but many people struggle with it. For students in an incredibly competitive job market, networking is a really good idea and despite what some people think, it doesn’t have to be insincere. Networking is all about building relationships. So here are our top 10 tips for you:
1. Forget your personal agenda: Just be interested in people and offer genuine help where you can. Don’t bother listing ice-breakers in advance. Just ask how people spend their time, what they’re passionate about, or how their week is looking. Networking is the exchange of information: where are the job openings, what is that employer looking for, what are the shifts or predictions in your industry?
2. Know who matters to you: There are only a handful of people that will really make a difference in your career. So while you’ll probably meet a whole heap of people, it pays to focus on quality over quantity. Foster and grow the relationships that matter.
3. Start with the people that you know: This is an easy way to start networking. Nurture your school, university, work and other contacts, and be open to meeting the people that they know. Try to actively meet people at parties, at work events,
4. Make a wish list of people you’d like to meet: They may be people in the periphery of your network or a distant ‘seems unachievable’ goal. It may come in handy one day. Or it may just be something to aspire to.
5. Focus on the person, not the position: People move around, into higher jobs and across industries. A focused, talented person who has less experience or a lower position now may be the very person you need to connect with in years to come.
6. Find a way to be valuable: Don’t just ask others to help you. Make sure that you are providing value to the valuable people in your network. Share information and expertise, like job openings when they arise. It could be personal – such as a parenting tip or where the best car parking is near to Victoria Square.
7. Be the link: Following on the point #6, connect people with other people who can help them. Like the graphic designer and the entrepreneur in need of business cards, or the employee with the perfect person to fit their company. Both parties will thank you.
8. Don’t play pretend: Just be yourself. You don’t have to be the loudest, most charismatic person in the room. If you are naturally quiet, speak to people one-on-one or in smaller groups. There are advantages and disadvantages to every personality type.
9. Follow up with promises: If you say you’ll do something, do it. Shoot off a quick introductory email. Send that link you said would help them.
10. Talk to people everywhere: You never know where you’re going to meet a person that can spark your career. Plus – the more you practice, the more naturally talking to new people will be.