Unless you’re born lucky, most recent college graduates won’t hit career pay dirt on their first application. In fact, if you stick to the job boards, the probability is high that you’ll have a prolonged search with lots of exhausting work.
But wouldn’t you rather be working smart instead working hard? That’s what these networking tips can do for you as your kickstart your career.
Keep your eyes open.
Where do you start networking? It’s the $50,000 question flashing in your mind. Specific networking events exist (Brazen Careerist blogs about them in big metro areas periodically and MeetUp can help you find niche groups in your area), but shouldn’t be where your networking efforts begin and end. In fact, it’s easier if you don’t take such a targeted approach.
Every time you meet someone, whether they’re a new face or a familiar sight, is an opportunity to network. Family parties, festivals, community service events, and even a night on the town are all open season. All it takes is for a common interest or experience to strike up conversation and you can shape the interaction from there.
Leverage your alumni network.
Your alumni network is an amazing networking connection. Your alma mater is a built-in ice breaker. For first time networkers, what to say doesn’t always come as second nature. Experienced professionals can be intimidating. Networking with your fellow alumni creates a sense of camaraderie, the way international travelers feel when they meet other nationals abroad.
One caveat of this networking tip is to not dwell too much on the past. Use your college days as a catalyst to get conversation started. Talk about the sports team, community events, changing campus commons, or anything else, but make a point to move beyond those college years.
Be the contact that everyone wants.
This networking tip isn’t to say you should contort yourself to satisfy everyone else. It’s much simpler than that. All you have to do to be the person everyone wants to network with is to give back.
Networking is a two-way street: you need to help others for them to help you. Very few people are ever going to get the VIP treatment because of who they are. That’s why you need to make it worthwhile for anyone who does make your acquaintance. How do you that when you are new to the professional world? Share engaging perspectives and insight. Pass along info on great opportunities. Act as a reference. Or just be willing to talk and listen.
Adhere to universal networking tips.
Though every interaction is going to be different, there are a few universal networking tips that apply to every first interaction:
- Don’t be afraid to guide the conversation in the direction you want (we all naturally do it, just this time do it for your career).
- Have a discourse, not a sparring match. Build on what’s been said, instead of bludgeoning their beliefs like Floyd Mayweather squaring off against an opponent.
- Ask for advice. It’s an easy request to grant and people love to feel their opinion matters.
- Don’t ask for a job or for an introduction to someone. That’s a huge favor to ask a person you barely know.
- Hand out a business card when you make a new connection. A physical reminder still holds weight in the world.
Good networking forges a strong relationship that won’t snap when a strong breeze pulls that person in another direction. That takes time and effort beyond a first meeting. However, with these networking tips at your disposal, you’ll have unequivocal success as you work towards your first job.
Want to meet some of the right people? Why not reach out to someone in our IDR team. We’re always looking to expand our connections and hopefully meet some driven and energetic professionals we can add to the team. Contact us and apply today.