#15 – Why Networking is Essential for your Career

As the semester is about to end, my weeks mainly consist out of assignments, presentations and the odd studying inbetween, so let’s be honest, nothing exciting to write about has been happening. However, as a nice little break from uni stuff I had the chance to go to a networking event. While I was very reluctant before going there – I thought there was no point and basically just went because I am a member of the club that organized it – it reminded me of how useful networking actually can be. And since I guessed that some of you might need that reminder too, I’ve decided to talk to you about networking today rather than complaining about how much I can’t be bothered to study at the moment. Seemed to be a little more useful for all of us.

Networking will help you find a job
Let’s admit it, we all know that’s the reality. While you might hate it as much as I do, the best way to find a job in today’s world is by knowing someone who knows someone. Some people might be lucky and have parents who can help them out, but in most cases, you will have to create these connections yourself. Most jobs don’t even get posted online, so the first thing you can do is ask around if someone knows some company that is currently looking for somebody with your skills. If you already created a network in the industry you want to work in, chances are, you will find someone who can link you to a job. If you did not do that (don’t worry, you’ll get there), pick up your phone. Try to find the responsible manager or HR person and call them and ask about open opportunities. Don’t send an email, don’t talk to the secretary, ask the manager. It’s scary, especially the first time you do it, but a lot more successful than anything else. At least in my experience.

Start networking now
I am assuming most of you are still in school or at uni, so right now is the perfect time to create your professional network. Especially when you are at university, you might have a variety of guest lecturers or other events allowing you to talk to people working in the field – go there! And don’t just sit and listen, ask questions, go up to people at the end of the lecture, get their personal email address and send them a follow-up so they will remember who you are. If you have the chance you might even be able to talk to them for a little while that’s great, but that might not always be possible. Nonetheless, get out there and start building relationships – even if you might eventually not need exactly these connections, it’s a highly valuable practice which will help you in your future. And who knows, maybe you can score a part-time position or an internship which is good for both your CV and your wallet.

Talk to people, don’t just ask them for a job
When you get to talk to an important person, introduce yourself, let them introduce themselves and then ask them how they are. Talk about the event. What they did before coming here. If everything else fails, talk about the weather. Don’t say hi and ask for a job. People hire people whom they like and whom they can see themselves working with. Show your counterpart that you actually are interested in them as a person rather than the job opportunity they might represent, and you will have much better chances to get their actual business card rather than the information to “just check our careers homepage”. Recruiters are humans, they know why you actually talk to them, but imagine being at an event and being asked for a job you might not even have at the moment 50 times in a row. Then the weather sounds like quite a good topic, doesn’t it?

Go to small networking events
In my (limited) experience, I’ve learned that small networking events are so much more useful than massive congresses. At most congresses, fairs and similar things, people just stick with people they already know rather than creating new connections as there are just too many people which in most cases are not even relevant for them. So unless you have someone who already knows  people and can introduce you to them, try to go to smaller events. Whether that’s a small congress or a speech with the possibilty to mingle afterwards, people there are so much more open and willing to talk to strangers, also because the audience is much more filtered and more likely to cater to their interests aswell. Generally, events give you an opportunity to personally get to know people you otherwise would never get, so go there and if everything else fails, they usually have some free food.

Try to stand out of the crowd
Sidenote: positively. You will not be the only person talking to a manager on that day, or even within the hour you are talking to them, so make sure they will remember you. That can be by having a great business card, an a little more colourful outfit or just by using your personality and being confident, it doesn’t really matter. The important part is that when you get in contact with them later on, they will know who they are talking to. But as I mentioned beforehand, keep it professional – dressing up as a clown will make sure people will remember you, but they also probably will not hire you. Or do you any other favour.

Do your research
I know that this point is not always possible, but usually when you go to an event, they publish some information on who is going to attend the event beforehand. Have a look at that, try to figure out who you want to talk to and what they look like (so you can actually find them). If you are really prepared and really want to bond with them, you can even research the person to find common interests. And having a little background knowledge about the industry they are working in can also do no harm.

Networking will do more than finding a job
Even if you already have a job, networking will follow you throughout your whole life. It’s all about the connections you have, and whether you want to work together with another company or simply get a promotion, people are people. And they prefer to work with people they know and like. So make sure to be nice to everybody, and try to stay in contact with as many people as possible – and yes, I definitely should take my own advice there. You never know when that coffee you have once a month with your college roommate might come in handy.

 

I hope you all have a great week, and good luck with your networking!

xx, K (:

 

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