Networking can often appear like a task we all know is tooimportant to ignore but dread it either because it doesn’t come natural to some of us or just feels like an inauthentic fluffy must-do task. My networking success story started when I got my first full time paid role came via a recommendation from a colleague I worked with during my internship. This role wasn’t advertised anywhere so the only way I could have interviewed for the role was via recommendation or word of mouth from my network. Hence the popular saying “it’s who you know, not what you know”, this is not to undermine the importance of what you know.
What is networking?
In my own words, Networking is all about building and developing meaningful relationships. The success of these relationships often lead to new jobs, promotions, brand deals, new opportunities and the list goes on. The first place we really should be starting from when thinking about our networking is our networks – in essence building and developing relationships rather than thinking of networking purely from the perspective of what we can get from these relationships.
Here are some ways we approach from a wrong perspective:• Marking your attendance at all the networking events without a having a clear purpose• Passing your business cards to as many people you can without building connections• Connecting with people purely for what you can get from them• Making small talks without any genuine interest in people
What do I possibly have to offer as a recent graduate when networking?
We live in an interconnected world and no one is a master of all things. Yes, lots of people are great at many things but there is always something new to learn and share with others. Ever heard this catchphrase ‘Everyone hate millennials until its time to convert PDF to word document’, that’s an indication that you have something valuable within you. It may be something very simple or complex but do not discount your gifts, skills or ‘random’ knowledge. However, you are more likely to be valuable to someone whose needs you understand. In a world that is mostly about instant gratification, taking time to get to know people and being of help to them is something that is greatly valued. Nevertheless, be mindful of their busy schedules.
Top tips on where to start when thinking about networking
1. Leverage your alumni community
Find people you went to school with doing things you’re interested in or have navigated an interesting career/life path or people simply admire due to shared values/beliefs and connect with them. It’s somewhat easier now that most events are online so if you’re nervous about in-person events this is a good opportunity for you. I find that people are kinder and genuinely want to help these Covid days so a simple introduction to book a virtual chat is a good way to go. Do your research, be polite and have a clear objective for the chat.
2. Leverage social media platforms
This includes LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more recently Clubhouse. LinkedIn definitely tops the list for professional network, but do not despise the power of personal branding across other social media platforms. Lots of great connections have been made on there. Got a skill share it, found an interesting article share and give your personal experience or opinion, read a good book recommend it.
3. Start small and connect wide
Do not limit networking to solely peers or seniors and certainly not just within your current/desired industry. But of course, the key is to start small where you can – friends of friends, colleagues from a volunteer team you worked with and seek opportunities to help.
I hope you have found this helpful, feel free to reach out for a chat or questions on anything around navigating the world of work and personal finances in the 21st century. I also share real examples on answering the top 5 interview questions and some positivity to help you in job hunting phase.
You’ve got this!
Chisom (Your YIP Cheerleader)