How to network like a boss
It’s all about who the people you know know, you know?
So you want to be a real adult and get a job. Well, the most important thing in business is who you know. Or rather, who the people you know know, you know?
This all boils down to networking, as in that thing you keep hearing about that you’re supposed to be good at as a young college student. Networking can be anything from making a friend to making a connection on LinkedIn – there are really no rules, except for keeping it profesh as much as possible.
Before any networking is done, your LinkedIn profile needs to be on point. I’m not talking you filled in a little bit about the summer camp you’ve worked at for four years, but actually finding some career-worthy jobs you’ve done, or at least something that shows you are a responsible go-getter who anyone should want to hire. Make sure that headshot looks good too, and not a cropped photo of you from some party over the weekend – we can tell.
You can make these connections at varying locations, including industry events, your work place and social events. Each one comes with a different vibe and qualification for sealing the deal on a networking buddy. The most important step in each of these situations is to immediately add the person on social media, such as LinkedIn, where you can keep track of their professional accomplishments and possibly reach out in your time of need.
Let’s say you hear about an industry event going on, whether at your college or in the neighborhood, the first and most important step is to go. The more you go, the more people you can meet (simple math). Find something geared towards your interests and career goals, but side note, this will require some research and upkeep on your part.
A lot of the time, these events have speakers or a panel – make these people your new friends. Get in on that Q&A and save a short follow up for after the session. Prove you’re interested and willing to be involved and it will be greatly appreciated.
You can also talk to the people sitting around you. Chances are, they are there for the same reasons as you.
Another place to network is at your actual work place. This comes in especially handy if you’re in an internship. You are surrounded by people who have real jobs and do real work. Even if it’s not the industry you want to go into, it is always smart to make the connections because you never know what you will be doing later or who these people have connections with, because, yes, making connections with your connections connections is all part of the fun in networking.
Pick out some people you admire in the office and grab some coffee with them during a break or after work. Chances are, they will be flattered and have probably been waiting to impart some of their wisdom onto a young professional for a while now.
Be proactive — no, not like the Adam Levine commercials — like how your teachers and parents have been telling you to be your whole life, but you figured you could always be proactive later, right? Showing initiative is attractive in a professional candidate and sitting in on a meeting or tagging along on a project can show you’re interested, even if you daydream through half of it.
The last place you could meet potential networkers is in your everyday life. Of course our friends are going to be the first people we connect with on LinkedIn, along with every relative we can find. These friends will be your strongest connections throughout your career, even if you’re in different industries.
Join a club on campus geared towards your career and I can guarantee you will find no better connection, especially because everyone is in the same boat — trying to get someone, anyone to hire them.
You can also make new friends (whoa, I know, crazy concept). Try to make some friends at new social events. You can even challenge yourself to talk to five people at every new event you attend. Think of it as killing two birds with one stone.
Also, pro-tip: always dress to impress. Rock that blazer and get that connection. Dressing the part gets you one step closer to getting the job.
Remember to keep up with all of your new connections or they will forget about you. A connection is like a plant — it needs sunlight and water, which in this case are occasional emails and hard work. If you forgot about it, it will slowly wither away and that is just not acceptable during your budding career (haha, see what I did there?)
All these new ways to make connections should keep you busy for a while. Just remember to be friendly and professional when necessary, go out of your normal routine to meet new people in your intended industry and always, always, keep your LinkedIn profile up to date.