Lessons in Networking
The moment I walk through the door, my heart begins racing at an unusual pace. My innate reaction to the looming cloud of pressure builds a slight sweat on the nape of my neck. It’s like someone pulled the trigger on the starter pistol.
I’m networking and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Moments like this have happened at least a dozen times since I’ve set out on this path towards professional success. There’s so much noise and so many people, it’s as if I’ve been swallowed inside the hollow mouth of a piñata without any escape. Networking has always made me nervous because I’ve never been sure of how it works. Thankfully, I’ve managed to walk away from my personal experiences with strong lessons to build off of until the next one.
Friends = jobs. You know that saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Despite how much I loathe the phrase, considering I’m going to have to pay Sallie Mae back for the “what you know” part, it’s true. When I first started my Communication program, I was unemployed. I became friends with another student from the program and she happened to be working at a local think tank. She told me about a position that had opened up at her organization. Luckily for me, it was aligned with my degree and career goals. She spoke with the person doing the hiring and shortly after my interview, I got the job. That experience taught me to open up more and get creative with my job search. It’s a lot better to have someone else vouch for you than to just have your resume sitting on someone’s desk.
Follow up. Period. Consistency has been my best friend in this area. I’ve missed opportunities before simply because I didn’t keep track of the business cards I’ve collected and emails I’ve received. Following up with your contacts is so essential because it can either make or break a budding relationship. Timeliness and maintenance of your correspondence can be as easy as checking in every month or so, even if that connection isn’t beneficial for either you or the other person at the time. I’ve sent emails and didn’t get any responses until months later. Sometimes it’s immediate, other times it’s a total miss. But I’m learning to leverage the now to work in my favor for more possibilities in the future.
Search for jobs in the most unlikely of places. I incorporate social networking sites into my job search more often than I used to. LinkedIn seems like an obvious choice, but Twitter is actually my strongest resource. A 50 character tweet directly from the source has yielded faster results than some of my hour long online applications. Would you believe me if I told you that Instagram lead me to a potential freelance gig? All I did was ask a question in a comment section! In this digital age, creativity is your best chance at employment. The fact that you can follow, comment, like and tag industry professionals puts you at a unique advantage. Embrace it.
Emiley Mallory is a freelance journalist who recently graduated into the real world. Currently, she is a contributing blogger for StrengthsInsight and freelancing for an event planning team at a major television network. She is using her posts at StrengthsInsight to foster inspiration and informative content for young people full of goals and great potential.
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