Networking is the key to getting jobs. As college students, it seems like this is one of the most common pieces of advice that we receive, but no one really tells you how to network.
Bruce Moorhouse, adjunct instructor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and former manager of corporate communications at 3M, approaches networking with two simple steps:
- Ask yourself "What are my goals?"
- Connect your goals to the people who can help you accomplish them.
Once you are ready to initiate conversation with those people, there is an easy way to take the pressure off. Moorhouse says that every person's deepest desire is to be significant and be recognized. Ask people questions that let them feel important. For example "Can I get some advice?" and "Can you tell me about your career?" Those questions show interest in the person and get professionals talking. You will probably learn valuable information, plus it shows that you are not talking to them just to get an interview.
After meeting with someone, always remember to follow up, with a note or an email. It can include something useful for the professional such as a link to an article that the contact would enjoy. Make sure to approach networking with "How can I help this person?" rather than, "How can this person help me?"
Moorhouse's last piece of advice is to take care not to represent yourself in a way that isn't you, or you might end up working in a place that doesn't fit your personality at all.
Networking doesn't have to be a chore! With time and practice it becomes a natural part of your routine, resulting in enjoyable work relationships and even friendships. The amazing job prospects that result from it are just an added bonus.