So You Think You Can Network?
More like, so you think you hate networking – am I right?! It’s something that either makes people giddy or makes them shiver in fear. Networking is one of the greatest tools to use on your career journey, and it can also be the most uncomfortable.
I’d like to consider myself an extrovert, someone who gets energy from being around other people; however, whenever I read the words “networking event,” I weirdly begin to sweat and anxiously try to search my brain for everything that makes me even remotely interesting. Can anyone relate?
I will be attending a networking event at Martha Stewart Omnimedia headquarters next month, and I’ve been searching for anything that will help me with my networking skills. I came across an older Fast Company article about Rachel Weiss, VP of digital strategy and innovation at L’Oreal USA, and how she seems to network so effortlessly. Since we’re all super busy graduate students and may not have time to read a whole article, I will sum up some of my favorite tips Weiss shared with readers:
1. Be authentic. When networking, or job searching in general, it’s important to be yourself. Weiss says she’s the same person in the office as she is on the weekends; don’t be afraid to let your personality out when meeting new people! Be professional, but don’t be a business school robot with a no-nonesense demeanor or a cheesy charmer who will say anything to make a good impression.
“Weiss attributes part of her networking success to being herself when she meets people, rather than changing her persona depending on the context. “People can smell artificiality on you,” she says.”
2. Take some pressure off. Networking is everywhere, not just at networking events. Remember that you can build a network anywhere, with people across various industries and functions.
“I like to meet people everywhere and it doesn’t matter matter where they work or what they do,” she says. “Sometimes the most unexpected relationships happen from just going about your daily life.”
3. Think of it as community building. It’s easy to be self-minded while networking, especially as graduate students who are looking to enter the workforce soon. However, don’t forget that giving is just as important as taking; how are you going to benefit your new connection?
“Some people see networking as an opportunity to seek favors from other people, but Weiss argues that relationships should always be a two-way street, or a “collaborative economy” as she calls it.”
4. Have a plan of contact after meeting. What good is connecting with someone you have no way of reaching again? Before attending a networking event, have a plan for making contact with people you meet after the event…whether that be through social media like LinkedIn or a business card. If you have a good conversation, don’t be afraid to ask if you can follow up with them.
“After that initial meeting, Weiss says that social media is a great way to keep relationships fresh, even when it is not always possible to connect in person.”
You can read the full Fast Company article, HERE.
Do you have any additional networking tips? Tell me on Twitter or through the hashtag, #BabsonSMA. And RSVP for the Speed Networking events going on this week in the Design Zone: BAWMBA Speed Mentoring (Oct. 28th) | Babson Family Business Club Speed Networking (Oct. 27th). You can also check out the Communications Club’s Professional Networking Workshop this Wednesday (Oct. 28) from 1-2pm in Olin 101.