Many jobs come from our personal and professional connections. Don’t let a limited network prevent you from getting the job you want. Discover the best methods for upgrading your networking approach from transactional to relational with these five tips from Associate Director of Outreach, Engagement & Professional Development Raquel Arredondo.
Be Yourself to Build a Personal Brand through Networking
Network with your personal brand in mind. While it may be tempting to try to be everything to everyone when attempting to build connections, sticking to your core interests, skills and talents can be a great way to build lasting connections that pay off in the future. Before you visit your next networking event, consider these questions:
- What is your personal brand?
- What are your key skills and areas of expertise?
- What makes you unique as a professional?
- What have been the most exciting projects you’ve worked on recently?
Keep these questions in mind when meeting new people, it’ll help new connections remember your area of expertise, especially if a new position comes to mind.
Learning the Right Networking Questions to Ask
Networking is a two-way street. Rather than focusing solely on who you are and what you can get from other people, try and make connections based on genuine interest and common ground. Demonstrate genuine interest in other people by asking the right questions about their interests and goals. Questions that go beyond daily tasks and professional connections can make the conversation more engaging and fun.
Consider examples such as:
- What do you like best about what you do?
- What’s the best part of your job?
- What were you doing before?
- How did you get into this field?
Active Listening Helps Improve Networking Skills
Networking can be a nerve-wracking experience. Many times, we’re so interested in making sure we say the right things and ask the right questions, we forget to listen to the answers!
Practice active listening when meeting new people. Instead of just thinking of the next topic or question, listen so you can ask relevant follow-up questions to learn more.
Effective communication is required and will do wonders for the difficult parts of those introductory conversations.
Be a Giver by Creating Networking Opportunities
Networking is all about other people. Just as you shouldn’t just focus on what you can get from new connections, you shouldn’t attempt to keep all the job opportunities and exciting new projects to yourself. Begin thinking of yourself as a connector or giver in your network, providing ways for those in your network to work with or get to know each other.
You can start small by recommending a friend when you don’t think you’re the right fit for a certain position, or recommending a colleague to work on an upcoming project. By providing people with mutually beneficial experiences and opportunities, you increase the chances of someone returning the favor.
How to Follow Up on Networking Contacts
As with every aspect of your job search, following up is a crucial part of the process. To solidify new connections, it’s important to reach out following your first meeting and maintain contact as time progresses.
Whether you follow up with a personal note, send an invitation to meet up again or use your network to recommend a friend for an upcoming project, staying in contact is the best way to keeping your network growing and thriving.
If you have any additional questions about networking, visit Graduate Career Services and learn more about our Networking 101 series.