Networking is a huge part – arguably the most important part – of landing a job. As the saying goes, “it’s all about who you know.” I’ve landed two out of the three jobs I’ve had as an adult from people I knew.
So, if it’s all about “who you know”, you need to get out there and know some people!
Specifically, I think there are 10 crucial networking tips that you – as a millennial – need to be doing.
1. Get out there and meet people
You need to get out there and meet people. This means do things like, spend time with coworkers outside of work, attend association meetings, conferences, etc.
Your niche will have events. Find them. Attend them.
2. Bring business cards everywhere
When you are getting out there meeting people, you need to bring business cards with you. It’s not use meeting people if you don’t exchange information. You’re meeting people with the intent of building relationships, which can only be done if you can contact each other. So, bring those business cards everywhere you go!
3. Exchange information with everyone you meet
Whenever you’re out and about meeting people, have your information in hand readily available to exchange. Don’t leave a conversation without exchanging information. Even if it’s a bit forced, it’s better than not getting the information at all.
If the person with whom you’re exchanging information doesn’t have business cards on her, have her write down her name and email for you on the back of one of your business cards.
It’s important for you to be the one with the other person’s information so you have the opportunity to reach out to them.
4. Follow up via email
After you exchange information with someone, follow up via email. Express your gratitude for connecting with the person. You should do this within a day or two of meeting.
5. Schedule lunches or drinks with people in your niche at least monthly (weekly is better)
After you’ve followed up with all the fabulous people you’re out and about meeting, send a second email asking these people to lunch or happy hour.
Build up your schedule so you have at least one new business lunch every month, or every week if you can swing it in your schedule.
6. Connect on LinkedIn (or other relevant social media sites)
In addition to connecting with new people via email, reach out to them on LinkedIn. Alternatively, if you’re not in Corporate America, find whatever platform they’re on and make the connection (Twitter, for example).
Don’t be creepy and Facebook-friend anyone, though. We’re networking here, not stalking.
7. Find a mentor
Since you’re meeting all these new, amazing people in your niche, you are going to need someone who you can look up to for advice. This is going to be a mentor.
There’s a lot of conflicting advice as to how to go about finding a mentor. In my not-so-researched opinion, I suggest reaching out to a few respected colleagues in your niche and asking them to lunch. After you’ve had lunch with a few people, continue to make contact with them over time, and eventually, decide on one of them to be your mentor. Keep in mind you should be reaching out to people who are in a position that you want. Don’t choose someone randomly. Do your research and make connections with people who have your dream job.
Your mentor can provide great, big-picture insights into what you need to do to get where you want to go. Your mentor can also provide practical advice, like what to wear and who should pay when you’re dining out with clients.
Finding a mentor can be a cumbersome task, but one that is worth it.
8. Give, don’t take (offer to help instead of asking for something)
When you are meeting with new people (whether it’s your peer group or a mentor), focus on how you can help them. People really appreciate help. For example, if your mentor is in charge of a charity, offer to volunteer your time.
Showing that you care and are willing to give without a reason will enhance your reputation and strengthen your relationships.
9. Send hand-written thank-you cards
Whenever someone gives you something, send a handwritten thank-you card. You will be one of few who do this in that person’s life (whether it’s after an interview, at the end of an internship, or in response to a gift).
People will remember your thank-you card and it will boost your reputation. People like to feel appreciated and nothing says thank you more than a handwritten note. It goes a long way!
10. Keep track of your networking
Finally, keep track of all the networking you’re doing. Whether it’s in Evernote, Excel, or in a good ‘ol fashioned little black book, you need to keep track of your connections. If you jot down the person’s name, contact information, and dates you connect on, you’ll be able to reference it in order to know when to make contact with the person in the future.
A Final Note!
Networking may be your ticket to the job you’ve always dreamed of. For me, without the people I’ve known, I wouldn’t have had two of the three professional jobs in my career.
Take these 10 networking tips and put them to use. You can only help yourself by being more connected to people in your niche.
It’s all about who you know!
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