5 Tips for Effective Networking
This blog post was written by Peer Career Ambassador, Shreya Shah ’20
You all may have heard how important networking is, especially when you attend a college like Babson. When you need help finding a job for the summer, you are told to network. When you need to gather information about study abroad opportunities, you are told to network with other students who have such experience. When you attend a forum or event at Babson and meet an interesting professional, you should ideally stay back and network. The list is endless. Here, I will be providing tips on how to network for career advancement, but some tips are definitely universal for your other networking needs.
Many people “network” by shaking hands and briefly introducing themselves, while others come with a script prepared in the back of their head. Unfortunately, these are not the best ways to network. When you network, it is important to form a long lasting connection that can be utilized.
Here are some networking tips you can use the next time you are at an event, such as the upcoming Career Fair on February 28th from 2-5pm in PepsiCo.
- Don’t sound scripted
When you introduce yourself, you should keep it brief and to the point. The goal is to sound as natural as possible when networking. The more scripted you sound, the more forced the conversation will seem, and this will not leave a very positive first impression. Of course, if possible, you should do your research beforehand especially in situations where you are talking to a recruiter at a company you are interested in, but you should not talk like you are being interviewed. Your research and knowledge should be used to direct the conversation, rather than being the center of your conversation. Breathe, relax, and smile!
- Show interest by asking applicable questions and try to find similarities
Your conversation can go anywhere. Don’t try to cut it short. If you have questions about anything, do not shy away from asking them. Although some believe that asking questions make you come across as unaware, questions are actually seen as a positive as they demonstrate that you are willing to know more and are interested in getting the most out of the conversation. Your questions should be genuine and applicable to the current discussion, however. Don’t force your questions. Additionally, while conversing, try to find similarities. People are more likely to remember a conversation if you establish such connection.
- Be engaged and listen attentively
Always maintain eye contact and nod when you need to. This let’s the other person know that you are interested and you are paying attention to what they are saying. This is also important so you don’t run into a situation where you repeat what they may have mentioned earlier or ask a question to something they already answered. This would leave a bad impression. Also, staying engaged simply allows you to absorb the most from the conversation.
- If they can’t help, maybe someone in their network can.
Talk about your goals and aspirations. If you realize that what they do does not appeal to you exactly, there may be someone in their network who does something that goes along with you are passionate about. If they work in a company which interests you, don’t hesitate to ask if they can get you connected with someone they know in another department. Perhaps they have a close friend working on a health tech startup and this is something you have been striving to do. The opportunities are limitless.
- Ask for a business card and follow up.
Once you are done conversing, do not just walk away. Ask them kindly for a business card or connect with them on LinkedIn. It is always good to establish a new connection. Who knows, if they might not be able to help you out currently, they might come in handy in a few years. You want this new connection to remember you. Send them an email as soon as possible after you meet them so they remember who you are and follow up when it is necessary. This way, you will remain in contact with them and they will know who you are if they are trying to refer you. Don’t sound too pushy either. If you email them constantly and simply ask them for a job, they will be less likely to help you out. Instead, your emails should center around your interests, the exposure you hope to gain, or their help to connect you with someone else, depending on where the initial meet up takes you.
Visit CCD Drop-ins during Career Fair Advising Week (Feb 23-March 2) for help with your Career Fair strategy! You can view attending companies in Handshake. https://babson.joinhandshake.com/career_fairs/3792