Helpful Tips for the Networking Newbie

November 2, 2011 · Leave a Comment 

Networking is no longer an unspoken rule amongst the successful – it is out there as the number one way to find the people that will probably be the most helpful to you in your career. There is now scores of sites, books and even classes where you can find the do’s and don’ts of networking. So start learning it as a skill, and it is almost certain to come in handy later on.

Here are a couple tips to start connecting, or re-connecting, for the beginner.

  1. Be open-minded. Friendly folks in non-related fields are still likely to have a connection that will be useful to you. Don’t forget the “rule of 6 degrees” – that all people are connected by a surprisingly small string of people. You also could find people and opportunities that may be slightly out of your comfort zone, but end up being the exact person you needed to meet or the dream job you never knew you wanted. Also, the people you meet now could very likely help you down the line, in some way or another.
  2. Never Stop. It seems a little like a condemnation, right? Especially for the networking newbie – I can never stop networking? The truth of the fact is, this is not a call to constantly be contacting old friends of classmates, but to simply try to keep your eye open as often as possible for networking opportunities. Some opportunities are easy to spot, such as class reunions and business conferences. However, many times the best opportunities are the ones that sneak up on you. A friends party, a supermarket, a plane ride – anywhere you can meet new people in a comfortable setting is a chance that person might be the one that knows about the job opening you always wanted. Keep your business cards on you at all times, and if the conversation so permits it (maybe with a little of your help), take the chance to exchange your card.
  3. Use online tools. The world is going digital more and more every day. Friends, colleagues, parents, and every one else seems to be online in some way or another. Begin jumping on the bandwagon with the most popular sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. If you are not very technologically savvy try to find a local class at a nearby college or school that offers lessons on the online social networks. Then once you are online start re-connecting with old friends and classmates online – that is practically what the entire sites are for. There are also a number of tools on those sites – particularly LinkedIn – that can help you improve and organize your accounts and contacts.
  4. Alumni are forever. Starting with university bonds is a great way to jump into the networking fray. Most colleges have alumni networks that you can call at any time. Find out when the next reunion is, or if there are alumni in fields that you can talk to.
  5. Last but not least: keep organized. Once you have oodles of business cards, several informational interviews, and too many names to remember of people you have exchanged cards with is not the time to realize you are over you head in a disorganized morass of networking bits and pieces. Keep yourself organized along the way with business card organizers, computer organizational programs, and even smart-phone apps to keep who you met where in order.

Read more about it here and here.

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