(This is a guest article by William Eve*)
When you graduate and join the workforce, you learn that in addition to your degree, many more skills are required to climb the career ladder. One skill that should be mastered as early as possible is the art of networking. Grad school is the perfect place to lay the foundation and hone your networking skills, so that you can enter the workforce with a distinct advantage over your peers. Here's a quick crash course on networking to get you started.
What is Networking?
Networking is the building of relationships within the business world. You meet someone within a certain area of business and become known to them. By building a relationship with that person you may well then meet people that they know, and then people that those people know, and so on.
The idea is that you get to meet people that are in the same industry as you, or people that may become colleagues or customers in the future.
There are many different ways of networking, and the world wide web has given us many new ways of building successful relationships. Let’s have a look at some of the best ways to network.
When "putting yourself out there" it is very important that you are confident in who you are. Do not try and be what you think people want, as you will quickly learn you cannot please all of the people all of the time.
Do not deviate from who, and what you really are.
Know Your Strengths
Another thing to have in place before you begin networking is to know exactly what you can and cannot do. It is important that you are very open and honest with people as to your genuine skills. Within a network of professionals, a phony will quickly be found out and distrusted.
It is a very good idea to carry some business cards around with you. This does not mean you throw them around like confetti, or that you give them to every single person that crosses your path, but it is great to be able to hand someone a card with your contact details on should a suitable opportunity arise.
If you take someone’s business card a useful thing to do is note on the back where you met and make any notes to remind you of your meeting. It shows you pay attention.
Have a Website
In today’s modern age it is very worthwhile having your own website. It does not have to be anything flashy, and you do not need to be a computer genius to set one up. There are many programs out there that allow you to create a simple web-page without any experience of computing.
It is a good idea to have some sort of biography, as well as a break down of your skills, objectives and contact details for people when they visit.
It is also a very good idea to join social networking sites such as Facebook, and Myspace as many business people now have profiles, and swapping Facebook identities is now almost as common as swapping cellphone numbers or emails.
Again these profiles are very easy to set up, and there are online tutorials to get you started.
Give Before You Receive
One of the most powerful tips you should take board with networking is learn to offer value. Many people enter networking events with the questions in mind “What can I get from this?”, or “Who can meet today who will benefit my career?”
These are selfish questions and ones that will probably not get you very far. You need to develop the mindset of, “what can I offer people here today?”, and “What value can I add to peoples businesses so that they will want to work with me on a continual basis?”.
Being clear about what you can give people will make you much more attractive, and will make you stick in people’s minds.
If you say you are going to call somebody then call them! If you cannot keep a dinner date, phone the person and let them know. It is vital that you treat people with respect when networking, and this also means being sincere in what you say and do.
Do not pay a compliment unless you mean it, and try as much as possible not to “suck up” to people. It is very transparent, and will often put off more people than it will win over!
Most importantly remember to never stop networking. Networks and relationships are like gardens. They must be watered, and tended to or else they will wither and die.
*About the author: This article was written by William Eve. William writes about saving money, investment loans and real estate for Home Loan Finder. If your a first home buyer or looking for a refinance home loan, visit the Home Loan Finder website for great advice and information on the best home loans available.
*Image Credit: Photograph by Álvaro Canivell [via Flickr Creative Commons]
(This is a guest article by William Eve*)