By Hannah Elauria
As an upcoming college graduate, the reality of being a full-time professional seemed stressful at first. But I found that the key to finding your place in the “adult” world after college is well…to simply put yourself there. Make the mental decision that this year will be your year to get your foot in the door and make meaningful connections. After all, advancing in your career depends on what you know, but also who you know. One great way to do this is by networking!
But what exactly is networking? According to San Diego State University, “networking is about developing professional contacts to tap for informational interviews and job leads.” So how can you capitalize on these opportunities? Here’s a few tips:
Check out the local networking events.
Networking events run all throughout the year and the key to maximizing these opportunities is to be in the know beforehand. Websites such as Eventbrite, Meetup and Eventful are convenient platforms to search networking events near you. There’s also organizations like PRSA, Society of Professional Journalists and Ad 2 who offer committees for young professionals to network within.
If you have a networking event coming up, you’ll want to prepare yourself. Enhancing your personal brand can amplify your brand voice and create substantial relationships. In addition, it’s important to dress accordingly for the event. After all, these events run on first impressions — so make sure you make an impactful one. Elevate that first impression by stating your full name, what you’ve done in your career and the results you’ve created. It’s also key to carry a stack of business cards with you, but don’t rely on these to solidify a connection. Focus on the face-to-face conversation rather than the business card itself.
Listen with intent.
As professional communicators, it’s imperative to be active listeners. In networking events, it’s important to give before you receive. You can do this effectively by giving the other person your undivided attention. Listening with intent can lead to finding an opportunity where you can utilize your skills to help them. But it’s also important to network in your everyday conversations. The person you talk to in line at Starbucks could be your next business partner or client — make those opportunities count!
In order to maintain the connections you’ve made, you must nurture them with consistent engagement. Follow up with these relationships through social networking sites such as LinkedIn. This is also an excellent platform to send or exchange articles pertaining to your business relationship.
Networking effectively is a strength which is fundamental to being a strategic communicator. Are you ready to capitalize on these meaningful relationships? Shoot us an email at [email protected] and we’d be happy to chat!