Networking changed my life last year, so I wanted to share my insights since. Not only did I land my dream internship prior to graduation, I also met so many incredibly inspiring souls all over the world.
Master networking with the right mindset.
Did you know that 80% of jobs are found through networking?
Networking can be a very intimidating process. It is especially daunting for introverts, the unemployed and recent graduates starting out in their career. But it can be a whole lot of fun if you do it right with the right kind of mindset.
I definitely wasn’t very confident when I first started. But every time I show up for a conference, event, or coffee meeting, I remind myself several things to be confident with whomever I come across.
It’s all about connecting with others and building relationships.
I enjoy meeting new people and connecting with people of diverse backgrounds and differing personalities from all over the world. But what I love the most is finding my tribe of people who share similar interests, values, and open you to new perspectives on life. Although conferences can be nerve-wracking, every time I show up I tell myself, I am here to make new friends and learn from others who have been through what I’m going through right now, are doing exactly what I want to do, or are simply inspiring. These people are my role models; they are exactly who I want to become. A few have even become my mentors. Either way, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” - Bill Nye
Be your authentic self.
It isn't easy introducing yourself to others, especially reputable industry experts with over ten years of experience. But when you talk about your passions, opinions, concerns and ideas to make the change in this world, you will surprise others with your undeniable vision and burning desire. Express genuine curiosity about others and ask many questions about themselves— you want to form a real, lasting connection.
We are all equal – and human.
It is easy to step into a room and feel completely out of place amongst the crowd. You're an unemployed recent graduate, and you barely have any experience or insights to share. The speaker up front is the CEO of your dream company, a 4x TEDX speaker, or a multimillionaire entrepreneur. Everyone is surrounding him and you're intimidated to approach him because you don't feel good enough. Why should he talk to me? Why would he want to help me? What do I have to offer?
Remember, you have just as much to offer as he does. He can very much learn something from you. He is a speaker for a reason, he may be more open to your questions or to help you than you would think. Don't compare your chapter one with someone else's chapter 20. They are successful now because of all the failure and mistakes they had to overcome. Go up there, shake his hand firmly and introduce yourself. Don't be surprised when others approach you or invite you to coffee.
Enjoy the process and don’t be attached to the outcome.
You will email someone and never hear back from them. You may reach out in person, only to be disappointed because they don't have the time to talk to you. They will be busy, they may not want to talk to you, and they may have many other requests for coffee. Don't take it personally and don't make up stories in your head. Follow up if you really want to talk to this person. Be genuine about your request, but if it doesn't work out, then move on. Remember, nobody owes you an interaction like you don't owe anyone one either. Don't network or attend a coffee meeting with the expectations of obtaining a job, internship, partnership, or clients. Networking isn't just about you.
Always ask, "How can I help?"
You show up at a conference because you have an intention, whether it is to obtain a job or to grow your business. Ultimately, you want to think about how you can help the other person that you're interacting with. Don't ask them to buy your product or service, find out what they're currently working on and always ask, "how can I help?" There are more ways you can help than you would know - share your network, write a testimonial, share their content, show your enthusiasm in what they do and show gratefulness for the advice and insights you've received. Let them know when you've succeeded with their help. Give more than you receive. Keep the connection ongoing, because you never know where things will lead to.
The power of networking is that all opportunities come from people. Believe it or not, you unconsciously network on a daily basis. When it comes to your career or personal matters, it is just the same. With a positive attitude, you will attract passionate, ambitious, and like-minded individuals like yourself.
Published at Thrive Global (April 14, 2019)