You’ve been working steadily for several years now, or maybe you’ve been making your way through a few years of college course work. You’ve been applying yourself to daily tasks all week long and then socializing on the weekends with no particular need to merge these two activities and no desire to force an overlap between your social life and your professional ambitions.
But now all of that is about to change. Soon, you’ll be leaving your current routines behind and facing the job market…and that means you’ll need to start the process of “professional networking”, a form of social career-building that can inspire anxiety even among extroverted and outgoing job seekers. But don’t panic just yet. There are plenty of ways to keep this process natural, organic, genuine, and even easy. Try the moves below.
Keep doing what you’re doing. Just do it better.
Carry on your normal mode of socializing…just dial up your level of effort and pay more attention to the details of other people’s lives. Work harder to remember names when you’re introduced. Don’t walk away from someone at a party just because their story doesn’t interest you. Listen harder, remember more, and actively engage with those who may not seem to have much in common with you at first. If you reach out and listen, you’ll learn more about the world outside of yourself. You’ll also make a better impression on those you meet.
Ask the right questions.
Ask people where they’re from. Ask them what they do. Ask them how they feel and what they think about various topics relevant to the moment. But most of all, ask people about their experience with the kinds of things that can support your own career growth. If they can help you in any way, or if they know someone who can, they won’t necessarily volunteer this information without prompting.
Offer favors before you ask for them.
If you listen when people talk, you’ll catch valuable information about the things they need and want. If you can provide any of these things, you’ll place yourself in good standing later when the tables are turned.
When the time comes to ask for help instead of offering it, step up to the plate. This can be very difficult, and we’ve all felt a moment of hesitation when requesting a favor from someone we just met, or a long-lost contact, who may respond with a blank stare. But reach out anyway. Most of the time, this feels far more awkward from our own position that it does on the receiving end.
For more on how to build your network in a way that is both effective and genuine, reach out to the staffing and career-building experts at Merritt.