As my dad always told me at a young age, there is no wrong time to network. Since I’m coming up on my 1 year post-college job anniversary, I thought I would share some tips and tricks that I’ve acquired over time.
- My biggest recommendation would be to start talking to people now about their careers, their jobs, their lives, and their interests. Everyone loves to chat about themselves and even if it takes a bit of poking and prodding, people love to dish out advice. You honestly never know where people or random opportunities will take you.
- Start with professors/mentors/people at work. Ask them to go to coffee or just start chatting it up. How did they get there, what are they interested in, if they were you (graduating, at their first job, etc) do they have any advice for someone entering/re-entering the work force.
- Always send a thank you email the same day following a meeting/interview
- To make it more personal, send a thank you card. A hand written note is so unusual these days that you are bound to be remembered.
I like to merge my outside hobby of photography with work and make up my own photo greeting cards. It’s fun to take pictures of all the places to which I travel and use them as thank you notes, birthday cards, or “just because” snail mail. What’s also nice about this is that I can personalize the note even further by picking out the perfect picture. Maybe the recipient likes to hike – send a picture of the mountains. Or if they are dying for a vacation to the tropics, send a card with a hibiscus. You get the picture 😉
- If you receive a business card, jot down notes on it after your meeting/interview. Maybe what you learned about the person, facts you can use in your thank you letter or the next time you see them (“I enjoyed meeting you this afternoon and really appreciated your advice on making the most in college” or “tips on how to get involved in the healthy living community” or “tall, has two daughters, interested in triathlons”, etc)
- Browse through LinkedIn contacts. Even search people at companies/industries you might be interested in. Feel free to send them a message or connect on LinkedIn. Also most companies have their emails as (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Get involved and try to become a yes person. It’s tough with the schedules we like to keep but having an open mind will again open you up to more than you could have imagined. I’ve even found that blogging has had that impact and in the past year, I’ve connected with more people and opportunities (even the small ones) than I could have predicted!
With that, I leave you to your networking. Any other tips for mixing and mingling?
“We strain to renew our capacity for wonder, to shock ourselves into astonishment once again.” – Shana Alexander