Have you ever wondered why some people just get along with everyone? They just seem to know everybody and all the right people while whenever you open up your contact list only the names of some family members and a few close friends pop up. Trust me, I have been there. Realizing how pathetic my situation was, I decided that it was time to do some research on how I could bail myself out of this rut. What I stumbled upon was quite remarkable! Networking is a skill and once mastered it can open up endless possibilities in your personal and professional life. Networking is a powerful skill and if you want to reap benefits, here is what you can do:
- Talk to everyone. A few things that may hold you back are: what if I don’t like everyone I meet? Or what if I’m shy? Well my simple response to this is it will be worth it. If you decide to ignore that part of your brain that’s screaming “you’re not a people-person” and just go out and talk to people then you would be surprised at how many opportunities can start flowing your way. Whether you are just out of high-school, currently out of a job or anywhere on the ladder of success, know that by establishing a relationship with the right people can give you a boost to that pinnacle you are trying to reach. Once I went to a networking event around 7:30am in the morning (I love to sleep so this was a big sacrifice!) It was for an IT company I was interning. My job was to give out the company business cards but for the majority of the event I found myself talking to a really lovely lady who said she is a project manager and has many temporary projects she needed assisting, so we exchanged email addresses. I sent her a warm email saying ‘it was lovely to meet you’ but I didn’t hear back from her immediately, it took 2 months for her to reply, but her first email was a job offer! The lesson learnt is most people don’t forget a nice smile and a kind gesture. Leaving a lasting impression is vital, sending a follow up message is even more important (I address this a bit further down …) this job led me to work for my local council, and later secure a management job in a top accountancy firm.
“But how do I meet the right people?” This is another excellent question you might ask. The answer is in my next point.
- Attend events. Whether it be a workshop, forum, or just a general professional meetup/gathering, it’s important to know that these events are laced with individuals who could help you; either now or in the long run. What would be better is if you do a little research on events that have something to do with your interests. Invest the time. There are many agencies that host forums, seminars, expos and even create networking opportunities; there are events that will happen wherein thousands of people attend. The concept is this, rather than stay at home complaining about not having a job or various opportunities it is better to throw yourself in the deep-end of networking. There will be people there who may be in the same situation as you who could give a few useful tips and advice. Networking done correctly, can take you from being stuck to where you never thought you would be.
Visit these sites to know what events you could attend in a city near you:
Type in the search what industry event you are looking for, e.g. Fashion show, Business Networking, Meetups for Tech geeks in London.
- Create and maintain contacts. Don’t let all that hard work of attending and shaking a million and one hands go to waste. Call, email or text your recently recruited contacts, express pleasure making their acquaintance, but it should not stop there. Later on, follow up. Not pestering them for a job, but simply checking how their work/business is going, recalling one key interest they expressed when you first met ‘Did you watch the Chelsea match yesterday?’, and ‘How is your new project?’ Ask to meet up for coffee or lunch. You could also go as far as offering working for them on a voluntary basis. “Are there any projects you are currently working on and how might I volunteer my services?” questions like these will show an employer a job is worth more than money, and you are genuinely interested in working for that company. Overtime, if you have done a good job you will have built up so much trust and favour that when you make a request of these persons, they will be fifty times more willing to offer you a permanent job.
Expand your horizons. Network Network ….and Network!
Dorothy – Career Nuggets