Networking Tip #1: Have a specific and attainable goal in mind.
The first step towards networking is to know why you want to build your network. Having a clear objective can help guide how you proceed with the next steps in the networking tip series.
If you have a direct and detailed goal, it makes it easier for people to help you. The people that you contact should be able to help you or connect you with someone who can.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our way of life and has made it more difficult to navigate the job market or to find career-advancing opportunities. However, it is not impossible to advance your career during this time. The first step is to know that there is strength in finding and knowing other people that have been in or are in a similar situation to you.
So, here are 3 goals to consider:
Goal 1: Learn how to navigate the current situation
The current pandemic is unprecedented and there is so much that we are learning about and adjusting to every day. However, there are certain situations in our recent past that have similarly affected the job market or disrupted our lives.
I have made multiple connections with individuals that have graduated during the recession of 2007 and during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Both events in our nation’s history have had tremendous impacts on our lives and changed industries, just as the pandemic is currently.
While different, there are some similarities and there is much to be learned from others that have gone through a period of uncertainty in the job market especially as a recent graduate.
This goal can be combined with another goal or stand-alone if you are not ready or available to participate in other opportunities because you need to take care of your family and focus on school.
Building your network is more about building relationships. If I had known that the focus is to basically make friends in professional spheres, I would have started networking a long time ago. I didn’t have to feel like I had to be ready to commit to another job or sacrifice time for myself or my family.
Goal 2: Find career-advancing opportunities
Sometimes, you can find out about career-advancing opportunities by scrolling through someone’s awards and certifications on their LinkedIn profile. However, as people advance in their careers, they update their LinkedIn profile to reflect their most recent accomplishments. Their most recent accomplishments might not always be attainable to a recent graduate.
It can be difficult to look for scholarships and career-advancing opportunities on your own. Networking can provide a great alternative because you can find industry and career-related opportunities that align with your interests by speaking to someone who shares those interests with you.
Goal 3: Find a job or internship
While this is definitely a goal worth having, it is more of a long-term goal than a short-term goal. The first person you talk to might not be the person who can land you a job or internship so you have to build a connection with them so that they have you in mind when they hear of a position or internship opportunity that fits your interests. In order to do that, your relationship with them needs to build up to that. They also need to feel comfortable and connect with you in order to open up their network to you. This all takes time. If this is your goal, be prepared to have to cultivate your network before achieving your goal.
Once you have your goal in mind, you can then begin to find the right people to build your network.