We’re excited and honored to kick off December with a guest blogger from the Catholic U community! Today’s post is written by Greg Weaver, Assistant Director for Student Leadership.
Networking is a vital part of success in life. I am sure you have heard the old saying, “It’s not about what you know but who you know.” As tired, overstated, and cliché as this saying may be it still rings true. It is one of the main reasons I have networking receptions at the end of two of the Cardinal Leadership Academy programs, Emerging Leaders and Cardinal Leaders. The Emerging Leaders’ networking reception connects participants with student leaders on campus in organizations they are interested in joining and Cardinal Leaders networks students with Catholic U Alumni who work in fields that align with students’ career interests. You never know when someone you meet might leads to a future opportunity. I have seen students connect with student leaders who have internships where they want an internship and alumni with professional experiences in fields where our students want to work.
Here is a little insider secret: networking is awkward, but it does not have to be hard.
I am going to leave you with a Greg’s guide to be a networking success.
Step 1 Make sure you come prepared.
Do your homework on who is going to be at the event and target whom you want to talk with. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and your profile address is listed on the contact section of your business cards. Don’t have LinkedIn? Get it. Don’t have business cards? Email me and I will send you a template that I created for students.
Step 2 Don’t be afraid to make the introduction.
Confidence is key here folks. I have seen this way too many times with students and professionals at networking events standing on the sides of the room afraid to talk to a new person. How are you going to expand your network if you are only talking with people you already know?
Step 3 Make a great first impression, not a good first impression.
Dress to impress, when you take the initiative to meet a person look them in the eye, give a firm handshake, and say hi may name is…
Step 4 Ask questions!
“When you were a student what experiences did you have that helped get you to where you are now?” Many people were sitting or standing just where you were not that long ago. “What advice would you give someone looking to go into…?”
Step 5 Talk with Everyone!
This might be the most important. The best way to expand your network is by talking with everyone. You never know if as a business finance major, that person who works at a construction firms is looking for an accounting intern.
Step 6 Be your best professional self.
When you are finished with the conversation say something along the lines of, “Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with me. I really appreciate you taking time to talk with me about our shared interest in…here is my card.” A lot of times they will then give you their card, which means utilize this connection.
Step 7 Send a LinkedIn Invite.
When everything is all said and done, be sure to utilize you new connection. I usually do this by sending a LinkedIn invitation and add a follow up note with it. “Hi… It was great meeting you at…I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and would like to talk with you more about our shared interest in…”