5 Secrets to Networking: #LifeUpdate
Ahhh networking! The word that you will hear in college literally a million times. Although it's going to get pretty annoying hearing about networking, I promise you it's one of the most important things you can do while in college. I have a couple of tips that I have used when it comes to networking and so far, it's helped me become super successful. If you're interested in hearing what they are, keep on reading.
1. Know Your Elevator Speech By Heart
I can't tell you how many times someone has told me "so tell me about yourself" and I have wanted to roll my eyes into the back of my head. As annoying as it might be, this is a very important question that most employers and other important people you meet are going to ask you. That's why it's so crucial that you know your elevator speech like you know the lyrics to your favorite song (yeah it gets real).
If you're unfamiliar with an elevator speech it's basically a brief message or "commercial" about you. It sums up who you are, what you're looking for, and how you can benefit a company or organization. It shouldn't be any longer than 30 seconds, which is typically the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator (hens the name).
2. Keep Business Cards on you 24/7
Business cards are a very professional way of giving someone your contact information. It also shows them that you have your stuff together. It may seem like something that's super small and pointless, but trust me people take note of when you give them a business card. They might not ever use it, but at least they have your contact information if they need it.
Check with your university and see if they offer resources for you to get free/discounted business cards. I've gotten professional business cards made for free through my school, and my blogger cards made for only $12. Don't be afraid to use the things that are offered to you on campus (you're already paying for them anyway).
If you don't have these services on your campus vistaprint.com usually has good rates on customizable business cards. They also have really cute designs if you need help with creating a layout.
3. Find Comfort in Discomfort
What I mean by this is get used to talking to people in awkward situations. I know that starting a conversation with a random person can be a scary thing, but you never know what you can get done by simply talking to someone. If you're at an event or meeting and you don't know anyone, start talking to them. They're probably just as nervous and uncomfortable as you are.
Sparking a simple conversation can lead you to find someone that may be able to help you achieve some of your goals. I've met so many people from initiating a conversation during an awkward silence. Trust me, IT WORKS!
4. Find Some Common Ground
If you're going to an event where you know you're going to be networking, do some research on some of the people that you might see at the event. This helps a lot with eliminating those awkward silence moments.
Finding a personal connection usually allows for people to open up more. They feel more comfortable with talking to you because they feel like they can relate to you. Try to find something that you are both interested in and let that be the thing that allows your conversation to flow. This will let you be more comfortable too.
A personal connection is key when networking.
5. Follow Up & Follow Up Again
This is probably the most important tip on this list. If someone gives you their contact information make sure that you follow up with them. Ask them if you can take them out for coffee and pick their brain. Professionals love to talk about themselves (as egocentric as that might seem). Use this to your advantage!
After you get a chance to meet up with someone make sure to follow up with them again. Send them a thank you message, this allows them to see that you appreciated their time. It also shows them that you have a good level of communication and professionalism. This tip can really help you stand out.
Sidenote: Don't be a bugaboo. Send one text/email, no one wants to read a ton of messages (we already get spammed enough by retailers).
Using these networking tips have definitely helped me reach some of my professional goals. I start my new job on Valentine's Day (soooo today) as a Web Content Student Assistant for the University Relations, Communications, and Marketing Department at UNT. I'm super excited about this opportunity because it will allow me to learn so much about the world of communications, and public relations.
College is all about learning about yourself and growing (personally and professionally). With my last semester a few months away I can't stress how important making those connections really are.
Make sure to leave any questions, advice, or your own life updates in the comments below.
Catch you in my next post.
Thanks for reading,