You know how business school always tells us how important networking is? They always say they can’t stress how important it is, but to many of us, networking isn’t necessarily the easiest thing. Over the past few years I’ve gotten advice for networking from different people, and I really appreciate all their advice! But I must say the most helpful and practical advice I got was from a “Networking 101 Workshop” hosted by Fortunato Vega, my host dad for 3 days when I first came to Seattle! He actually voluntarily offered this workshop for a group of us on a weekend- don’t you admire how generous and kind he is? :’)
I think I have already sent you the notes that we (the students) put together, but now that we have a blog. I thought it’d be a great platform to share it with you and our readers. So I edited a little and tried to make it more organized here. I still have so much to improve on (and really wish I’m better at it!), which is why I try to read over these notes from time to time. Hope these notes are helpful to you and whomever that’s reading this blog 🙂
Presenter: Fortunato Vega
What is networking?
To meet complete strangers and get to know them. Networking is about developing and maintaining a personal connection with people in a way that they are happy to help you because they consider you as a friend having similarly aligned interests. Even if they cannot be the one who can directly help you, because they LIKE you, they will try and find someone who can help you.
- Leverage social network to accomplish whatever you want
- The more you share, the more you will get back
- You will meet people who have a sincere interest in helping you.
- Get specialized information/inside information that you want and/or need.
- Foster valuable relationships
- The sooner you network, the more career opportunities you will have
Where to network?
- Social Media. The best way to make new connections that help you find internships, learn about interesting subjects ,or launch your career. The best online platform is LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). Everyone should have a well-polished LinkedIn profile. Invite professionals you have met. Join groups of your interests. You will learn a lot and get to know the people behind the group. Start by observing and watching the comments and discussions on LinkedIn first. When you become comfortable and have something to contribute to the group, get involved and share it with everyone.
Other online social media platforms:
- Professional organization. Join or volunteer for events in the areas of your interests.
Unique Value Proposition: Share something personal about yourself
My name is _________.
I am passionate about……
I get super excited about…
My name is Sharon Lin.
I love travelling, learning about different cultures and languages. // I wish to help people and make an impact on their lives. // I get super excited about event planning, fashion, and anything beautiful and creative.
Skills for Networking
- Listening skills (not talking skills)
○ Get them to talk. The more they talk, the more they think you are interested in them.
- Make good and appropriate eye-contacts
- Know how to read body language
- Ask open-ended questions that start with “What”, “How”, “Why”, “Where” , “Who”
- Stay current and know what is going on in your discipline or areas of interest
A) Before: Check your appearance
Arrive 5 minutes early to prepare yourself.
- Dress professional and check yourself in a mirror (Hair, face, finger nails, outfit, shoes).
- Walk into a room confidently with a smile on your face. Scan the room from left to right. Approach groups of 1, 3, or 5 people.
B) First encounter: Initiate a conversation or join a group
- Join a group by waiting for the speaker to keep an eye-contact with you
- Give a firm full-hand handshake
- Introduce yourself: Unique Value Proposition
C) During: Eye contact, distance, asking questions
- Ask open-ended questions
○ What brings you here?
○ Can you expand more on that?
- Agree their statements by saying: “I agree”, “indeed”, “Oh yes, can you expand more on that?”
- Make eye contacts, and use intonations and stresses on key words during the conversation.
- When you share something personal, there is a connection.
- Take note down if they mention their interests/hobbies. This is something you can use for follow-up.
D) After: Gracefully exiting a conversation
- Ask for a business card
○ Thank you very much for your time today. I would like to keep in touch with you. May I have your business card? / May I add you on LinkedIn?
E) Follow-up: Maintaining a personal connection
- Always follow-up with email within 2 days thanking them for an enjoyable time.
○ Better yet is to send a special, personalized handwritten-card
- Send a personalized social media invitation (name, how you met, other details)
It was a pleasure to have met you at _____. Thank you for sharing the information about_______. I had a great time talking with you and would like to stay in touch with you in the future.
- Keep them updated on the information that you come across regarding their interests or things they follow.
○ i.e. a new released Asian movie if he or she is interested in Asian culture
- Do not directly ask them for help if your relationships with them are not strong enough yet. Instead, ask for some advice.
○ i.e. What advice would you give to a person (like me) who is interested in _____?
- Ask them to meet over a coffee to get more acquainted.
Tips for being a professional networker:
- Stay current—you have to know what is going on currently in your discipline or areas of interests especially in social networking.
- First impression is crucial! Be professional! (and polish your shoes)
- Find questions to ask from the conversation if you don’t know what to ask
- Ask their interests or what do they do for fun to make the conversation more casual.
- Keep your promise. When you say something, you must do it. Do not volunteer if you can’t do it.
- Have your business card ready.
- Repeat the name to avoid forgetting it.
○ People like to hear their names 🙂
- Do not give up easily if they do not reply your email or voice mail. They might be busy. Keep following up with them and they will appreciate your effort.
○ Ex. Hi Mr. Vega, I am just sending this email to make sure that my previous email did not get filtered into your spams.
Basic Dos and Don’ts of networking
- Be yourself
- Be sincere, honest, polite, personable, and nice
- Always stay in touch with people you really like. Keep them updated on your activities and developments once or so every month. Even just check in to say “I hope all is well with you and your family. I just wanted to drop a note and see how you are doing.”
- Do not interrogate. Many people love to talk about themselves (so ask open-ended questions), but don’t interrogate!
- Take “job” out of your vocabulary. “launch my career”, “looking for opportunities to pursue things that I am passionate/excited about.”
- Do not go to a networking event with a specific objective. You are there to meet people and have fun! (not getting a job.)
- Do not apologize for your language skill if English is not your first language. It is okay to ask them to clarify their points. (i.e. “If I understand it correctly, you are saying…” then ask “Is that correct?”) People really appreciate when they are being listened to and you take a time to make sure you understand them.
Hope this is helpful and interesting! 🙂 I’d love to know what you (yes you, you, and you!) think about this blog article. ^^
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