Career Now Series: Networking that Works

So far, the Passion To Action series has covered the art of the elevator pitch and how to make your first impression count. But what else can you do to be memorable and leave a lasting impression? Turns out there are a few steps you can take both before and after you meet someone that can help you stand out from the crowd. The ability to connect and communicate with past, present, and future contacts is crucial to expanding your network and maintaining opportunities for self growth.

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Basically, you have to work on building up your posse. Your ~*posse*~ should be a group of peers, friends, mentors, and/or sponsors. They are a team of people that inspire you, motivate you, and see greatness in you. It is critical that you surround yourself with people that will lift you higher. You will need people that you can count on to be there for you when the going gets rough. Negative peer groups can have a dramatic impact on your mindset and goals. Disassociate yourself from people who are not supporting your dreams. Life is a game, and you have the power to choose who is on your team- so choose wisely.

Before you Meet: “The Prep Time

Let’s say you are attending a networking event. Think about who is (or who might be) attending. Could you find a potential mentor there? Or possibly connect with that friend-of-a-friend you’ve been told about? If so, you should plan ahead. Do some research on the people you might meet so you’ll be prepared with a bit of knowledge about their work and life.

Plus, come with extra business cards on hand…just in case! Don’t be boring when you can be extraordinary, even when it comes to business cards. (*Bonus tip: we like to look at moo.com which has loads of cool templates and designs to choose from!).

Another quick way to prepare yourself is to explore on LinkedIn. (*Check out the activity called “Study The Stars” at the end of this blog!) Don’t freak out – it’s okay for someone to see that you viewed their profile! It’s also okay to let someone know you’re interested in their work or that you admire their career – so don’t hesitate to send messages to connect with people! Just be sure to edit the message space that LinkedIn provides so they know you’re not a robot.

After you Meet: “The Real Work

Once you’ve met all of these amazing people, it’s smooth sailing right? Not quite. Now is when the real work begins! You have to make a point to stay in touch. After you meet someone that you’d like to be a part of your “power posse,” emailing is an easy, personal, and professional way to keep in touch. However, email etiquette is very important.

There are 5 basic rules for students when contacting professionals:

  1. Have a clear and concise subject line. No essays please.
  2. Use a tone of voice that is appropriate. Be you, but also be aware of your tone on email and how things might come across. Ask a friend to proofread your email before you click “send!”
  3. Don’t use abbreviations and emoticons with professional contacts. Just to be safe, keep it emoji and slang free.
  4. Respond in a timely fashion. Stick to 24 hours. If you forget to respond, the window is not completely closed – just reply back to them as soon as you can! A late follow up is better than no follow up.
  5. Include a clear and concise signature with social media profiles and personal contact information in case they need to reach you.

The most important rule: Keep in touch. Schedule times to meet up. Send emails to check in. Text. Give them a call. It is your job to follow up and be in touch with them and maintain the relationship. Hint: Your online brand, if you keep it frequently updated, can help do the talking for you when you are not in the room.

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#Passion2Action |  ACTION ITEM: Study the Stars!

Take a look at the profiles of people you admire. Look at their career paths. Dirake time to study each person’s journey which led them to their current job. Choose two aspirational profiles (Individuals who are at least 2-3 levels above an entry level position) and one closer to your stage (recent graduates).

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Career Now | Podcast Series

Ready to really jump start your career? The #Passion2Action podcast has even more information and tips. Our partners at Why Millennials Matter are sharing new episodes each week, featuring bonus information and exclusive interviews. Tune in and tweet us your thoughts or questions – tag them #CareerNow!

Get even MORE from the #CareerNow series. Check out all of our recent articles:

First Impressions – Make Them Count!

Getting Started with Career Now

Learning to Lead and Executive Presence

Creating a Portfolio

Building Your Brand Online

5 Ways to Stay Motivated During the Holidays

Matching Your Major to Your Passion

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