I had previously mentioned that networking is essential to success. It’s spending a couple of minutes with a professional or mentor in hopes of gaining a contact that will help you achieve advance your career. He/She might be working in an industry you’re interested in or may know others who can help you get your foot into the door. Even if someone may not give you any advantages at the moment, keeping in touch with people and getting to know them is still helpful. You may never know who will end up where, and what kind of positions that they can offer to you.
To the current interns out there, always keep this in mind! It’s never too early to start. It’s not only about trying totalk to professionals either. Networking with other students and interns is also important. Remember to invest your time with others regardless of position or potential. Don’t look down on anyone or disregard anyone because you think that they won’t be helpful. Everyone is part of this “network.”
I’m not a pro at networking…but here are some tips I learned.
1. Be proactive and don’t be a wallpaper. People will never be able to help you out, inform you of other opportunities, or connect you with a helpful contact if they never get to know you.
2. Be real but professional. While it’s good to show what you’ve accomplished or experienced, you also want to be friendly and make the person you’re talking to comfortable. Speaking to them as if you’re reading off your resume is boring unless you’ve done something amazing and unique that piques their interest. Remain professional as well. Don’t go off tangent and start talking about fighting with cops, binge drinking, etc. You want to maintain a friendly conversation, balance the conversation, and leave a good impression. Be polite!
3. Exchange business cards. If you are actively networking, a business card might help others remember you. But honestly, this is more for yourself. You want to get a business card to remember exactly who you spoke to and get their contact information. If you want to keep this contact, email them later that night or the next day to ask to meet up for coffee to talk about something that was briefly mentioned when you met this contact. It’s recommended to make a spreadsheet of all your contacts. Email them periodically to update them on how you’ve been doing. I have peers that email their contacts once a semester to keep them in the loop. Not everyone will always reply or exchange emails, but you just might never know.
4. Practice Practice Practice! It’s difficult for everyone to start. You hate those 2 minute awkward silences when your brain is going crazy just trying to think of a question to ask. And then you just look like a creeper that just stares at the other person’s eyes (since you’ve been taught to look at the eyes when speaking)…or maybe just the ceiling or the floor. But it’s going to be difficult for everyone in the beginning. You have to keep practicing to get comfortable with people. You develop techniques over time and practice. You get feedback from a person’s reaction and learn to hone your networking skills.
Where does all this networking happen? Sign up to be on listservs for organizations you’re interested in. In law school, there are several bar associations in the local area that have networking events. Attend these events! But networking doesn’t necessarily occur only in these types of events. It can happen in the classroom, talking to a professor, speaking to the person sitting next to you at the bar. It can happen anywhere! It depends on you to speak up.
+++++++A PLUS TO NETWORKING! You might get a mentor! A mentor who is hopefully in the field you’re interested in and will teach you the ins and outs. Maybe edit and proofread your resume/cover letter and connect you to other people.
You might say that networking is terrible because you’re talking advantage of people. But it’s a necessity. All professionals know this. But don’t go around and make it obvious that you want to take advantage of select people. People won’t be willing to help you instantly. It takes time for people to notice that you’re an interesting and smart person who is dedicated. Only then will a person help you in one way or another.
I hope that my tips from my own experiences help! If there are any other tips/suggestions you would like to share, please do! We all need to look out for each other. Sharing information is beneficial to all.
Until next Tuesday!