Networking can be many things. It can be scary, overwhelming, and very stressful. However, networking can also be extremely rewarding. Read for more tips and tricks on all things networking, from how to make a connection all the way to how to dress. After you read, you will be eager to start your networking journey after gaining some direction.
Scared of networking? Join the club.
Point of view: You are stressed about getting a job and have no idea where to start. How do you reach out to someone? What do you say when networking? What are you supposed to wear to an event? Good news, you are not alone. Networking may feel too scary to try, but with some advice, you will gain the confidence to become a networking pro.
Why is networking so important?
Let’s get straight to the point, networking can be very uncomfortable. When you are putting yourself out there and getting to know people who may seem intimidating, it can be extremely overwhelming. However, studies show that networking not only leads to more jobs, it also leads to quick progression, comprehensive understanding, and more confidence overall. There are so many benefits of networking that make it imperative to take part in networking in the job world.
One thing to come to terms with is how nerve-racking networking is, and there are a few reasons that make it so stressful. For example, people may struggle with social anxiety, fear of rejection, or just a lack of confidence in general. It is very important that there are ways to get over these uncomfortable feelings, and as time goes on networking will become more natural and easy. One important tip to make your time easier is to prepare.
Preparation is key!
It is normal to be nervous, but procrastination and networking do not go hand-in-hand. If you wait until the day of a networking event to prepare, you may find yourself panicking. Nerves will be high and you could blank on what to say. There is a very easy fix to this problem, and it is to write down some possible things about yourself that may be brought up and some questions you may want to ask. Remember it is important to ask a lot about the future employers’ position and business.
Some examples of questions that could be asked are:
“How did you become interested in the field?”
“What is your favorite thing about the field or the company?”
“What are some challenges that you have overcome in your career?”
Above all, make sure you are engaged in the conversation and show that what they have to say is important to you.
Here is an article from Indeed for some more questions that can be asked at a networking event.
Dress for success.
An outfit can be one of the most important parts of making a good first impression. While networking, it is crucial to look professional and proficient. This is necessary for many reasons. Not only does dressing nice show respect, but it also is a major tool when it comes to standing out. An outfit is a way to express yourself in a situation where you are really trying to get your personality out there.
While picking out an outfit, the atmosphere of the networking event should be considered. For example, if the event is formal, the outfit should be formal as well. For men, this may mean wearing a collard shirt that is tucked in or wearing a suit. Both outfits should be worn with a nice pair of dress shoes. Women should wear a nice blouse that does not show their shoulders with a pair of slacks. Blazers are also a great way to make outfits look more professional. These outfits should be paired with a nice pair of flats or heels that are an appropriate height.
If the type of networking is more laid back, for example meeting over coffee or lunch, the outfit should be more laid back as well. It is still very important to dress respectfully, but a suit or a blazer is not necessary because the vibe is more casual.
Overall, you should dress in whatever makes you feel the most confident. When networking, you want to feel like your best self, and a good outfit is the perfect way to help.
Here is a link to a website from Young Professionals of Knoxville that has great examples with photos included of what can be worn to a networking event.
Networking from afar
Something that is not often touched on is the difficulties of trying to get a job in another state. When you are not physically present in a place, it may feel impossible to get job opportunities. In this situation, making connections and networking is your best friend.
You may be thinking, “Where do I even start?” and it is very normal to feel lost. The good thing is, there are so many tools that make this situation easier. LinkedIn can be a huge key in getting your name out there and connecting with future employers. LinkedIn can also be a great place to summarize the best qualities of yourself, any experience you have, and even to attach your resume.
Another way to get networking opportunities is through email. Though you may feel like you are bothering people, it is important to remind yourself that you are not being a bother at all. Future employers will respect you taking the initiative to show that you are interested in their company. Send emails to multiple possible employers, and make sure they are professionally written.
Finally, it is crucial to take advantage of virtual opportunities such as a Zoom meeting. In this day in age, we are lucky to have the opportunity to meet professionally through a computer. If you have the chance to meet with someone but cannot meet physically in person, Zoom is a perfect way to make up for that. All of the same things can be talked about, just through a screen! Do not underestimate the power of a virtual meeting.
Always use your manners!
Asking for help is scary, but if it is done the right way you will find that it is not so bad. A crucial method when asking for help when finding networking opportunities is to be as polite and to the point as possible. If someone sees that you are respectful and knows exactly what you are looking for, that are most likely going to be more than happy to help. In an email, always remember to address the person respectfully using their name, ask them how they are doing, and then get into the specifics about who you are and why you would like a networking opportunity.
It is important to remember that a networking opportunity should not be treated as job interview. Though it can be confusing, a job offer should not be expected. The goal is to make a good enough connection to the point where a job interview or position is offered to you by the person you are meeting with. It can give the wrong impression if you are assuming a job opportunity will be given.
Lastly, some sort of follow-up and thank you note should be given to the other person. Even if you said thank you in person, one simple email or physical thank you note can go a long way. It will mean a lot to the person that you considered their time and their feelings.
As you can see, networking can seem very complex and there is a lot to learn. It can also be draining, and at times you may get your hopes up. However, the benefits of networking make everything worth it. Now, it is your turn to take this information and go try it out for yourself. What makes you stand out is that your personality makes you who you are. Remember, be bold, be yourself, and always be confident.
For information on how to write a thank you letter after a networking event, check out this blog on OFJS.