The Professional’s Playlist – New to Networking?

The Professional’s Playlist – New to Networking?


If you’re new to networking and a little
unsure of how to get started you’re in the right place. Today we’re
talking the “how” and “why” of building effective professional relationships. Networking is connecting people around a certain activity or topic. For me, from a career perspective, I look at networking as building relationships. It’s much more about getting to know somebody, getting to understand what they
do, with the idea of how can I help that person. Because it’s not a take thing – it’s
really a two-way street. I think what’s hard for students sometimes is when you say
networking to them they think they have nothing to offer which is completely untrue. Students have a lot to offer everybody. For example, as a student you can offer a
fresh perspective based on your experience and current setting. You’ve got a
perspective that they have no clue about. They may be more experienced, may be a little bit older. They’re in the corporate world, you’re in the school
setting. So you have something to offer – you have ideas. You have your perspective. And
while networking can expand to include people from many different areas and
organizations, a good place to start is with those who may already be nearby.
Starting to talk to your parents, or your friends, or your friends’ parents that might be in that industry or even on the periphery of an industry. I
think you do need to think about “How or where do I want to point myself?” instead of the shotgun approach of “I’m going to talk to everybody.” You should, I
mean you should talk to anybody and be friendly, but from a career search perspective
sometimes it’s more helpful, from an energy management perspective and a time management perspective to say “Hey, I met with my OPCD coach, I’ve done my stuff in 1010 or 2010.
I’ve got a sense of “these are kind of the avenues I want to go after.” Then you
start picking out folks within that maybe through LinkedIn, maybe the career fair or an information session. Just to ask those questions about “Okay, I understand it to be this. Am I on
the right track with what my impression is of this industry?”
Sometimes it’s a random conversation that leads to learning, which leads to
more questions, which leads to more learning, more questions and then it becomes a very virtuous cycle. An ideal place to
grow that network? The career fairs that happen every single semester. You may
think they’re solely focused on jobs and hiring but it encompasses the bigger
task of networking, and that’s something that happens before, during and after the
jobs and interviews. If you think about the hundred and thirteen plus companies that
we had and the three hundred-plus employers, I mean those are all people you can talk to – all of
them. And the neat thing about it is the questions that you can ask them, I mean
you can learn something from every person at a career fair. On the employer
side, on the OPCD staff side, even from other students. I mean you may be
standing in line waiting to talk to an employer and you’re having a
conversation with another student and you’re talking about your interests, they’re talking about their interests and all of a sudden maybe you know somebody who may be helpful to them in their interest area. They might also know somebody that
you need to talk to – “Hey, I met so-and-so who wasn’t at the career fair, but they’re coming back for an information session and you need to meet this guy!” That’s what it is – it’s about conversations that lead to opportunities. And now that
you know who to talk to, it’s time to start working on how to get those
conversations started and keep them moving. “How was your trip in?” “Where are you
coming in from?” “What firm are you with?” Most questions – when you listen and
if you’re an active listener – you can pick up the next question that you want to ask. It’s a clarifying thing. “Oh you came in from so-and-so?? Oh wow – I read that such-and-such is going on there.” So there’s also a dynamic nature to these conversations. It’s really just start
with something simple like “Where are you in from?” “How are you doing today?” If it’s an event in Lowder – “Did you find parking?” Just get them talking – “Oh, you’re an Auburn grad?” – that kind of thing. It really is one
thing to open with, something simple and then be a good listener and find the next question to go from. And Lowder 101 is a great place to start if you’re wanting to improve those networking skills. We’ll have stuff in the building – information sessions, we’ll have class speakers and any of the engagement activities that we do – Resumania, where we have employers come in – I mean you name it. Almost everything that
we do, aside from maybe one-on-one coaching, is an opportunity to engage with another
person from a corporate perspective. We try and get employers at everything that we do and we also try and teach how to do this. Not so much from a lecture perspective but when have a workshop we’ll sit down and talk about the strategies and the
ideas and those kinds of things. So you’re equipped, because it can be daunting. I talked earlier about the idea that just
starting a conversation with a stranger can be hard. But it’s that idea of coming to the workshop so that we can talk through and equip you with
ideas on how to approach that. What are some of the things I should say when I
start out? Where are places that I can actually practice it where can I actually learn about it? Follow us on Twitter @AUOPCD or visit us
on Facebook to find out when events such as Resumania will be held and start
learning how to build those professional relationships.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *