By : Emily Schaper
When it comes to opening new doors and opportunities, networking should be a top priority. It’s not just about trading information, but establishing long-term relationships with mutual benefits. Networking, however, may not be at the top of everyone’s to-do list. People may find it time-consuming, awkward, or out of their comfort zone. This can be understandable if you already have a lot on your plate and the last thing you want to do is make small talk with strangers. Although, if you don’t take the time to prioritize networking throughout your career, you may miss out on some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Now, you may be wondering how to become an effective networker. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be expanding your professional network in no time!
Find Your Networking Style
Now, you may be wondering how to become an effective networker. First, you need to determine what style works best for you. If you are energized by being around people, for example, you could network at a large social gathering instead of just one-on-one. Be aware, however, Covid-19 may alter these plans. Organizations are utilizing Zoom, so if you happen to enjoy engaging with others online, this could potentially help a lot.
Network Outside the Box
Second, don’t be afraid to network outside the box. Think of events and organizations to attend that you otherwise wouldn’t consider. Sometimes, being able to volunteer around people of similar interests is enough to advance your career. It’ll show you really value helping others and have a passion to learn new skills/abilities.
Do Your Research
Don’t forget to do your research before you connect with someone. It’ll help the conversation flow better if there’s a base understanding of their interests, education, work history, and more. Plus, it’ll show you genuinely care and respect the other person. They’ll remember that about you later on.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Next, always follow up. The time you invest in speaking with someone won’t benefit your personal and professional development if you fail to follow up afterward. This can easily be done by utilizing social media platforms, such as LinkedIn. Just sending short, personalized messages helps differentiate you from other individuals. According to Deena Baikowitz, chief networking officer and co-founder of Fireball Network, “The worst networking mistake you can make is not trying at all.”
Pass It On
Last, but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to pass it on. If you have the opportunity to help someone who has taken time to reach out to you, act upon it. Your referral has a lot of power and can help them land a job. You were once in their shoes and what goes around comes around.
Utilizing these tips will set you apart from others in the long run. Remember, if you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone, then you’re not growing. Now’s the time to reach out and stay connected.
by Nikki Carpenter
One of the most intimidating aspects of the “real world” after graduation is business professionalism. It is the unfamiliar appearances, communication and habits that derive this intimidation factor. The days of being surrounded by students in gym clothes or jeans and T-shirts on a daily basis are long gone. The conversations change from Greek life to happy hour, from roommate struggles to insurance rates.
So what’s the best way to overcome this professional roadblock when the skills must be taught? A survey by York College notes that 45 percent of recent college graduates have a “too casual an attitude toward work” and a “worsening work ethic.” To help bridge this learning gap, colleges such as Columbia University and the University of North Carolina, have published articles touching on the basics of the professional world for college students.
The job interview and the first day of work are two of the most nerve-wracking situations for young professionals because of the unknown. Always come prepared and confident and make a lasting first impression as a skillful employee, not just a college student.
- Introduce yourself by first and last name. Also, unless otherwise given permission, refer to everyone with by his or her proper title.
- Be aware and follow the ethics of your industry.
- Respect coworkers’ personal space.
- Dress for success. Remain modest, yet professional in business settings.
- Always be attentive and punctual. Get enough sleep the night before in order to make it through morning meetings without appearing drowsy.
Chances are that within five years of graduation, college students will attend a professional dining event. It could be an interview over lunch, a conference where a meal is served or listening to a speaker at a brunch. Regardless, proper etiquette is expected. A few tips are listed below:
- Always be polite to restaurant staff. This is a reflection of how you treat coworkers and clients.
- Be aware of conversation when ordering a meal. Try to avoid messy and difficult to eat foods.
- When using silverware, always work from the outside in. Start with the fork farthest from the plate (it is typically the salad fork).
- Never ask for a to-go box. You are here for business, not leftovers.
Professionalism varies in every industry and workplace. In general, it is always better to overdress than underdress, and to act more proper than casual. Even if a workplace is not a formal setting, it is important to practice proper business etiquette. Whether when attending a conference, meeting with the CEO of a company or simply interviewing for a new job, professionalism is a quality that makes specific students stand out among a sea of candidates.