In today’s world, it’s not just about what you know; it’s about who you know. Good qualifications are always a plus, but your connections help you get there and help you stand out as a candidate. Most organizations today are more likely to hire a familiar face with a good recommendation rather than a stranger; even if it is simply reaching out to learn more about the organization before you apply, your extra communication shows that person and that organization a part of you that could not be seen based on one’s resume. Effective networking is key to success.
The 7 Second Rule:
First impressions mean a thousand words. Research shows first impressions are made within the first few seconds of meeting someone. If you are going in for an interview, check the office dress code. If you are meeting a connection for coffee, it doesn’t hurt to at least be in business casual. Always make sure your hair is out of your face neatly, your teeth are clean, and you are not overdoing makeup and/or perfume/cologne. Make sure you have a professional notebook for taking notes!
Aim for quality connections. Networking is not a one-way street. It is important to think about not only think of what someone can give you, but what you can provide for the person you are trying to connect with. Enter networking with a “how can I help you?” mindset. It is important to make lasting connections, not just one’s that can land you a job, but ones that can help mentor and support you. Have a goal in mind when making a connection: what is the end result you want to see? Whether that’s a job, support on a project, or a collaboration, make sure you and the person you are meeting have a clear idea of the goal.
The Growth Mindset:
Find connections that challenge, inspire, and support you. The best connections are those that have that lasting impact and help further grow your career and you as a person. Your connections should help you, and you should be doing the same for your connections. Competing with your connections for jobs or benefits for yourself is not effective in the long run. Do not talk about yourself the entire time, brag, or have the “I am amazing, here is everything I can offer you” mindset. No one can provide everything perfectly, and it is important to keep in mind that as important as it is for you to not have this mindset, make sure your connection is not trying to do this either. A good connection will help make both of you stronger than the sum of your parts.
After connecting with someone, it always is beneficial to send a follow up email later in the day, It can be simple, just thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. Try to include a personal detail, such as: “I really enjoyed talking to you today about _______ and I look forward to hearing more from you soon.” That way, the person will know you truly listened to what they had to say.
With these tips, you cannot go wrong making quality connections. Remember to be there physically and mentally, ask quality questions, and be yourself.
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