Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of young millennials are some terrible networkers. A couple weeks ago I went to a happy hour event for female journalists in my area and this woman in grad school asked me for a job immediately after I told her I worked at HuffPost.
The thoughts running through my mind were: What’s your name again? Could you not be so thirsty? And is this really how you network?
I understand that networking can be really difficult for some people. It can be intimidating approaching someone you admire. You want to say the right things and want the person to remember you. But I believe that the entire point of networking is to form a genuine connection with someone professionally. I’m still in the early stages of my career, but I’ve learned a lot of networking strategies over these past few years. Here are some of the key things I’ve learned about networking.
NETWORKING SHOULD NOT ONLY BENEFIT YOU
Any relationship should be a two-way street in my opinion. Don’t use people to get to where you want to be. Many experienced professionals want to be mentors and share their wisdom with you; and not just pass your resume to the hiring manager. Ask yourself what you bring to the table and not just what you can get in the end. When I speak to a potential employer I tout my social media skills and ability to reach younger audiences. I’m not going into a situation asking for my next paycheck and neither should you.
RESEARCHING PEOPLE IS NOT STALKING, IT’S BEING SMART
People love talking about their companies and new projects. Whenever you know someone is going to be at event, please Google them and what they have going on. If they just closed a deal or wrote an amazing article, talk to them about it. It shows that you take initiative and really care about having a substantive conversation. I’ve Googled a C.E.O standing next to me on my phone before I said hello to him. Always do a little research beforehand.
INQUIRE ABOUT OPPORTUNITIES CORRECTLY
When I meet someone who works for a company that I’m interested in, I ask them questions about their experience working there. I ask them what the best part of their job is and if they see themselves staying there. Some people only want to work at companies because they are popular or have a cool reputation, but really do no research. Instead of asking for a job right off the bat, see what direction the company is going in. What positions are they need of and what areas are they expanding in?
ALWAYS BE AUTHENTIC AND FOLLOW UP
You can professional but also be yourself. It’s so crucial not to come off fake or phony. I talk to everyone the same way no matter what their title is. I think people really appreciate this. I also follow-up with people and don’t let their business card collect dust. You can tweet someone, send a short email or send a card. It takes only a minute but goes a really long way. I hope these networking tips helped you!
Feel free to ask me your career questions on my Ask.fm page =).