NETWORKING 101

  • Sometimes it’s about who you know!

    What is Networking?

    The action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

    Networking is not simply an information exchange between you and another person. It involves establishing relationships with people who will often become your friends and community of colleagues as you go through your career.

     

    Why should you Network?

    Networking is important because it will allow you to meet people who are ready to introduce you to other related people in the job/career areas that you are interested in.

    Networking can help you get hired and grow your career.

    LinkedIn reports:

    • 80% of professionals consider professional networking to be important to career success.
    • 35% of surveyed professionals say that a casual conversation on LinkedIn Messaging has led to a new opportunity.
    • 61% of professionals agree that regular online interaction with their professional network can lead the way into possible job opportunities.

    Who should you Network with?

    • Family and friends & their friends and family
    • People from your church, gym or community organization, school
    • Past or present teachers, coaches or advisors
    • Past or present co-workers, peers, managers, supervisors, advisors
    • Anyone you meet and have a productive, professional conversation about your career path
      • Your doctor
      • Police officer
      • Superintendent
      • Store clerk
      • Mail man

    Networking – Important Things to Remember

    • The Basics:Use correct English and speak clearly…don’t use slang
    • Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone
    • Almost every opportunity/event is an opportunity to networkDo your research but don’t over think it
    • Don’t begin with asking for their contact information or job openings
    • Stay away from politics, religion, gossip or jokes
    • PRACTICE!!!  PRACTICE!!!  PRACTICE!!!

    Words of Wisdom:

    • Stay Positive: Stop worrying about making a mistake and have faith in your abilities. Worrying too much about what you are going to say next can actually cause you to lose track of the conversation as it’s happening. Instead, try to stay focused on the other person and what they are saying.
    • Take a Deep Breath: If you are tense and nervous, you're less likely to feel at ease. Try to stay relaxed and just let the conversation flow naturally.
    • Introduce Yourself: One of the simplest ways to begin is to just introduce yourself and then give the other person the chance to do the same. Once this initial icebreaker has taken place, try asking a simple question or making a simple observation to help inspire further discussion.
    • Introduce and initiate. Go ahead and initiate with a hello! Even if you recognize, or slightly know someone, re-introduce yourself. By taking ownership and initiating a conversation, you will feel more in control to drive the direction of the exchange.

    Body Language:

    • Sometimes what you don’t say is just as important as what you do say. As you strike up a new conversation, it is important to pay attention to your nonverbal communication.
    • Body language can be used to convey interest and emotion. A friendly expression, comfortable stance, and good eye contact, for example, can help show that you have a genuine interest in learning more about another person. Slouching, looking away, and frowning, on the other hand, might make your conversation partner feel that you are bored or disinterested.
    • Encouraging nonverbal signals include:
      • An open posture, which involves keeping the trunk of your body open with your arms relaxed, helps convey a sense of friendliness.
      • Good eye contact involves looking at a person’s eyes. Don’t stare, which can be threatening. Instead, keep things natural, looking at the other person’s eyes but glancing away occasionally.
      • Smiling can be helpful, as long as it seems genuine and natural. Avoid faking a big smile and try to go for a relaxed but uplifting expression.

    Conduct Informational Interviews

    • Contact people of interest in your field and ask to conduct informational interviews.
    • Be prepared with the specific questions you want to ask in a 20-30 minute time period:
    • What are the skill sets you use most in your job? How do most people enter this field?
    • What type of position in this field might I reasonably target given my background?
    • What criteria do you use for hiring at my level?

SAMPLE CONVERSATION STARTERS

    • Introduce Yourself. Let the professional you are making a connection with know who you are and what you do. “Hello, my name is _____. I am a student a senior at Greene County High School and I will be graduating in May.“
       
    • Tell Them Who You Know. If you were connected to this person by someone in your current network, let the professional know. “_____ is an acquaintance/colleague/friend/etc. of mine. They suggested I speak with you because of your work in the  _____ field .“
       
    • The “WHAT“ and the “WHY“. Tell the professional what it is that you are interested in and why you are interested in connecting with them. “I am looking into careers in _____interested in finding out more about _______.“ or  “I am interested in finding out more about _____ and how I can utilize my skills in _______ to ________.“
       
    • It’s A Date. Be proactive and respectful in requesting a time and day to meet with the professional. “May I have 10-15 minutes of your time to gain your advice or ideas on ______.” “May we connect via phone or email to discuss a time that is convenient for your schedule? “
       
    • My teacher, Ms. Mize, mentioned to me that you work for XYZ company. I’m really interested in XYZ and would love to learn more about how to connect with them for an internship or summer job.  Do you have a minute to chat with me about the company?
       
    • That was a great presentation, wasn’t it? …….
       
    • Your presentation was excellent. I feel that I really learned a lot!  ……..
       
    • The Weather is always a safe bet: It’s really chilly outside today isn’t it?  This is my favorite time of year!    ……..