Most college students are trying to network for internships, learning experience and jobs. However, networking is a skill everyone should have, even if you already have a steady job. Who knows what could happen? Connections can get you, a loved one or a friend a job in the future, or just help you make new business connections.
The first tip to network is always be polite to anyone you meet, as well as professional. Treating people with respect is not only the right thing to do, but also could help you make a new connection to a company or organization that could help you down the road. Another thing to remember is always keep an updated business card ready. In a world of digital, a physical copy of how to reach you shows an old-fashioned charm and personalization.
One key step in networking is listening. Always be willing to learn, ask inquisitive questions and listen to whomever you are trying to network with. No one wants to hear you drone on about how great you are. If they ask, be humble and honest. Embellishing your own accomplishments is never a great tool of personal selling. It is easy to see through a person in professional settings, and you risk losing your connections and perhaps even your job. One example of a great place to really listen and learn from professionals is going to conferences.
Conferences are a great way to meet people in similar or the same profession as you. For already working professionals, don’t pass up every opportunity to go to a conference for your profession, because usually they are great chances to make those connections that could give you a great career change or improve the job you are already at. Listening to these professionals speak and asking questions is a great way to network and learn.
Social media is another great way to connect with people. LinkedIn is an amazing example of an entire site for networking, however, companies now look through your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, so make sure what you are posting is something you would want your employer to see. Showing photos of you holding an illegal drug or naked is not a professional photo, nor does it make someone who is professional want to hire you or be associated with you. Email is also a great way to network, by sending a Christmas email or card to people you met at a conference, and always sending thank you notes or emails. These seem like little tedious tasks, but they can really tip the scale on how someone looks at you. Showing your general interest, responsiveness and responsibility are all important in networking and life.
Networking is an important skill to have in order to better your life and yourself. Tips from networking are often easy skills one should learn when they are young, like being a polite and good person. Connections, especially in a time of such job change, is a vital skill to success and always having a backup plan if you lose your current job.
Lauren Sheil is a freshman studying strategic communication at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What do you think? Let Lauren know by tweeting her @laurensheil101.