How to Network Like a Pro
This week I was in New York with my school on a joint program between our Career Center and School of Communications, designed to give comm and business students a chance to meet communication companies and network with alumni and executives. I got to meet so many incredible alum leading major companies as well as other AU students. Since it’s been a very full week of networking culminating in sorority recruitment, which is ALL about talking to people you don’t know, I decided it would be a good idea to share some of my best networking tips.
one // Start with your “warm” connections – Getting hired is all about who you know, and the best way to figure out what you want to do is by talking to people in the industries you’re interested in. Reach out to close friends, family, and extended family first; they’re the people who know you best and are most likely to be able to give you good advice or reach out to connections on your behalf. Always start with who you already know and branch out from there.
two // Get out there – Go to events, even if you only make one connection at each, give yourself the chance to meet new people. Most schools have alumni networks and AU does networking events a couple of times a semester which makes it really easy to practice networking. You can also use LinkedIn to find alumni of your school at companies you’re interested and reach out to them for informational interviews.
three // Follow up – You can meet as many people as you possibly can, but if you’re not maintaining contact they’re not going to remember you or be inclined to help you. The best suggestion I’ve heard is to make an excel spreadsheet and keep track of contacts, where you met, what you’ve discussed, and the last time you contacted them, so you can ensure you don’t wait too long to follow up again. A huge part of networking is building genuine connections and that doesn’t happen in one night.
There you have it – the basics of networking and how you can make it work for you. A couple of other things I wanted to mention…
- Informational interviews are NOT meant for you to ask for a job; they’re so you can ask questions and get a better understanding of a company or industry.
- Quality over quantity: a few genuine connections will get you farther than a ton of connections you barely know and who barely know you.
- Offer something in exchange. I’ve heard of people bringing a unique chocolate, take them out to coffee, or send them articles they may be interested; anyone taking the time to talk to you is doing you a favor, be sure to respond gratefully and be appreciative of their time.
I hope this helped make networking seem a little bit less scary! I love helping my friends and students who come to the career center figure out how to get their dream jobs and would love to be able to help all of my readers too! Would a post on informational interviews be helpful? Or any other career-related posts you want to see?