Networking can sound pretty intimidating sometimes, especially if it's something you've never done. But the truth is, networking is super easy and actually pretty fun. It can easily be the golden ticket to your dream job and one of the greatest resources for finding the right job for you. The best part is, networking is free.
What exactly is "networking"? Networking is easier than it sounds; it's basically talking to people, mainly professionals. It's an excellent tool for meeting professional contacts and can help open doors to your career. I have actually found all of my jobs and internships through networking and I highly recommend getting out there and networking with people because it really does work!
How do I do it? Start by introducing yourself to professionals and people in your field of interest. Get to know the person you're talking to and of course, be prepared to talk about yourself. Don't make any excuses because whether we want to admit it or not, we as people love to talk about ourselves, it's just science.
Where do I go? The truth is, you can network pretty much anywhere, you just have to be willing to get out there and talk to people. An easy place to start is through social media. For example, Twitter is a great place to follow other professionals in your field and join the conversations they're having. Social media is also a great resource to use to find out when networking events are taking place near you. Just remember to portray yourself professionally on your social media channels because this can easily make or break your job search. Other great ways to network include talking to friends and family, past and present coworkers, attending community events, conventions and career fairs.
Who should I talk to? Generally, you can network by talking to pretty much anyone, anywhere. For example, when I was working as a server I met a lot of interesting people and quite often we would get to know each other and exchange cards. You'll be surprised at the people you actually come into contact with on a regular basis and don't even realize it.
What should I remember? Just remember to relax, smile, give a firm handshake and most importantly, be yourself. It's also always helpful to keep business cards or copies of your resume on hand, especially when you're attending a networking event. You never know when you'll meet that important business contact and don't want to miss out on a great opportunity because you forgot your card or resume.
So, now that you have all of the secrets of how to network, get out there and introduce yourself, the rest will happen naturally. Just don't forget, networking is a two-way street so you should try to help others too. If you have any other questions you'd like answered about networking or your job search be sure to leave a comment below!