5 Tips That Make Networking A Whole Lot Easier
For many people, the idea of networking is really uncomfortable (introverts, we see you!). Making small talk for the purpose of gaining some financial or professional benefit, can make us feel phony. But, networking can also be used to benefit others—to create mutually beneficial partnerships. In every sphere of life, human beings need each other to succeed, and this is one way we can honor that.
As part of CCI week, hosted by Gordon’s Career and Connection Institute, alumni came to campus to give advice about vocation during the Calling and Career Conference. Naturally, networking came up in conversation a lot. Here are a few pearls of wisdom to help assuage any anxiety you may have about networking.
- Ask About People’s Stories
Networking can feel intimidating, but an easy way to begin is by asking people about their experiences. Once they see that you have an interest in them, they will feel more of an interest in you. People are often open and willing to share about their career.
“Just be yourself,” reminds Jordan Greenlee ’12, the manager of marketing and sales administration for Hartford Technologies. “[If you] genuinely want to learn about somebody’s story or life experiences, you’re guaranteed to get a lot of people interested in you as well.”
- Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Soft Skills
Sometimes soft skills are just as important as technical competence in a job. And potential employers are going to be more interested in people with whom they can communicate well.
Samuel Solberg ’18, a business analyst for The Nexxus Group, says, “You want to be able to demonstrate good listening skills. We underestimate how much it matters to be able to respond to what someone else is saying.”
- Send Thank-you Notes
A small gesture of thanks can go a long way in distinguishing you from other applicants when you’re applying to a job or trying to establish some professional connections. It may seem old fashioned, but, in a time when we’re inundated with emails on a regular basis, people remember individuals who take the time to write a letter by hand.
“I did do snail mail for the job I have now,” concedes Leah Brown ’15, a trust advisor for RINET Company, LLC. “I interviewed with nine people at the firm. Every single one of them got a little thank-you card and some of them have it hanging in their office.”
- Show Passion
Passion is energizing, and people want to be around those who energize them. If you show zeal for a position or for your work, potential employers will want you on their team. Even if you don’t have the complete skill set, passion shows that you’d be willing to learn it and then keep learning.
Greenlee explains, “I totally want to hire somebody who’s passionate. Because then I know I don’t have to micromanage you. I don’t have to tell you to do things. You’re just going to do them. That’s something I’ve looked for a lot.”
- Don’t Overlook Professors
Whether you’re a current student or an alum, make a point to connect with your professors of past and present. They often have a good understanding of where your strengths lie and may be able to connect you with someone you’d like to work for.
“I met with my professors a lot,” remembers Solberg. “I ended up getting my first and second jobs through them. So, don’t underestimate the relationships [you have] with people who aren’t going to be able to give you a job, but who are investing in your learning.”
By Veronica Andreades ’20, English language and literature