By: Giselle Gallegos
So you took the classes, spruced up your resume, and finally perfected your elevator pitch. Now what? How can you take the skills you have learned and put them into practice? What else can you do to help you further your career?
The answer is simple: network.
By networking and socializing, you are putting your name and face out into the workforce and building connections that can help you get to where you want. You may be able to secure an interview or learn of an internship that you would not have previously known about. Not only that, but you can also help others in their own career endeavors.
However, some of us may not be completely comfortable with the idea of networking and socializing in a professional sense. This is entirely understandable, as it may be nerve wracking to talk to new people. This is why it is important to practice your socializing skills and truly make yourself comfortable with meeting and speaking to others. Some things you can do to make yourself feel more at home with networking are:
- Attending events that interest you
By attending events that are of interest to you, your chances of finding another individual with similar goals or helpful information are higher. You will be able to speak on topics that both of you can identify with, which can more easily contribute to building a relationship.
2. Network frequently
The best way to get better at anything is to practice. If your skills are a little rusty, it is important to socialize often in order to build upon them!
3. Have confidence in yourself
If you continually are second-guessing yourself and putting yourself down mentally, chances are that other people can see your lack of confidence. By practicing positive thinking, you can habitually change the way you approach socializing.
4. Don’t be afraid to have fun
Networking doesn’t have to be stiff and impersonal! It is perfectly fine to crack jokes and have fun with the people you are meeting. Allowing your personality to shine through is a great way to make yourself memorable.
Just as important as the socializing itself is the follow-up. Maintaining your relationships is crucial to having people remember you. This part doesn’t have to be intimidating either! Giving them your business card is a great start, but you can also follow-up with a friendly email every now and then to catch up. Social media sites such are Linkedin or Twitter are also a great way to connect and keep up with the people that you meet, as you can both easily view and share your accomplishments and endeavors.
With that, it should also be stated that networking goes both ways. A good networker offers their help to others and takes a genuine interest in their relationships. Your help to others may be a useful contact, advice on a project, or maybe even something pertaining to their personal life. As the Golden Rule says: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
With the right mindset, networking is not as intimidating as it might initially seem. You probably are already forming meaningful and impactful relationships in your personal life, now it is time to form them within your professional circles.