Blog Post Sample 2
“Stop Telling Me To Network!”
Gee, I was so sick of this word! It seemed like all the staff in college was trained to repeat this word at least 7521 times per semester. It seemed as a time machine had taken me to the time when my mother would keep reminding me of anything and everything right as I was leaving for school. “Don’t forget your lunch!”, “Remember to stay hydrated!”, “Be nice to the other kids!”, “Did you brush your teeth?”- All those comments to which you would just reply with a “Yes, mom.”, Simply to get away from the nagging as quickly as possible and just move on with your day.
The funny part is that throughout the day, I would realize, that I had forgotten my lunch, or that I hadn’t drunk a single drop of water for more than five straight hours. In the very worst of all the cases, I would realize I fatefully forgot to brush my teeth just as I was speaking with my crush at the time! I know you’re smiling because this probably happened to you as well. (Ok, maybe not the smelly breath part of it, but yes to the rest). The point is that just as fast as I realized my mom was right at least 99.99% of the times that she nagged about something, I also realized college staff was correct about nagging about Networking, too.
Networking landed me a job in my industry fresh out of college. Needless to say, I was one of the very few ones actually to get such a great opportunity like that one. Many people asked me the same question: “How?” and it all came back to same keyword Networking. But now the question is “How do you Network efficiently?” So here goes my small but useful guide to those who are looking to grow their circle, land a good job, meet new people, understand the market, meet potential investors, or anything you have in mind.
1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses (and try to have a plan!).
The very first step towards any successful process is self-analysis. You must understand yourself before you seek to get anybody else to do so. You’ll need to know yourself personal and work wise. For example, some good questions to start are: What is my niche? What are my goals? Where do I see my business heading? What differentiates me from others?
However, don’t forget about these: How am I about teamwork? How do I deal with deadlines? What can I contribute to my job? And, what do I need to improve? How can I do it?
By knowing yourself better, you’re going to be able to form a plan or strategy to boost your (and your group’s) productivity.
Do not fret if any of the answers to these questions are less than satisfying, it means there’s a lot of room to improve!
2. Get a business card.
Getting a business card will help you connect more easily with other people that find you as an attractive business partner.
Let me tell you a secret: having a very simple business card will do the trick. Remember to include your name, your professional e-mail address, and the best number to reach you at.
I got mine from Moo.com because I love the quality of their products. However, there are plenty of places where you can get them from; another cheaper alternative would be Vistaprint.
3. Clean up your Social Media profiles.
Make sure that whenever a potential employer or a potential business partner looks you up online the first thing that pops up is not a bunch of unprofessional pictures. Always display your professional image and brand. Having fun is great but show professionalism and responsibility in all your social media accounts.
4. Search up local opportunities to get involved in your field.
Keep an eye open for all the events that are happening locally. Look for conferences, seminaries, networking events, volunteering activities and group discussions. In my case, I chose to be a volunteer for the Orlando Fashion Week and help them out with their marketing and online presence. This experience was by far one of the best decisions of my life. I got to meet many new people in my industry, expand my thoughts, get creative and it directed me to meet who would become my boss a couple of months later.
5. Observe and interact.
Here’s a golden tip. There’s no point in trying to connect with everyone in the conference room. Once you are already in the event, take a minute (or five, or ten, as much time as you need) to observe the environment. The secret is to try and identify who are the people you need to talk to. Make a note of it in your head and make sure to plan the rest of the event accordingly.
If you’re rather on the quiet side, don’t try to push yourself out there if you do not feel at ease, but try to reach out from your comfort zone. That can mean not ducking your head if someone meets your eye, or trying to make small talk by the refreshment tables or lunch hours. Depending on the nature of the event, dynamics might be more or less formal, so be confident about approaching at least one person for starters. If you keep these up for your events, you’ll start feeling more comfortable approaching more people. Do not be afraid to go one step at a time, but never stop walking!
Get your social skills on, don’t be shy and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!
6. The “What Can I Do For You?” Technique.
Let’s face it. It’s human nature when you first meet someone, to think about the ways that this person could potentially bring value to your life, whether it is friendship, love or business. Have in mind what kind of image you want to project, for the person you meet may consider you a good acquaintance but not serious enough for a business deal, or vice-versa. Portray your best qualities as a person, not only as a worker.
When you’re interacting with someone new, the first thing to do is to identify their needs. Make sure you offer your help and your services. Be genuine. You’ll immediately double your value to them, and you’ll make yourself memorable.
Now, go out there and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!