Networking. Whether you dread the word and the process behind it or simply hate it's constant use in today's society, you can't deny it's important in the corporate world, or frankly, in any career path you choose to follow.
Whether you know it or not, you network and form connections everyday when you talk and socialize with others. Don't always think about it as a personal gain or as an item on a long checklist of things you need to do to further your career. Talk to others and genuinely take interest in their experiences and passions, and appreciate their advice to you. Every person you meet will teach you something about yourself or about the path you want to take your career, whether they are a positive influence or not. You probably won't form very close ties with every acquaintance you come across, but the ones who stay in your life will most definitely impact you and shape your identity.
Here are some of our best networking Tips, Tricks and FYI's for both the interview process and when you start that new job!
Career Fairs, Networking Sessions/Information sessions: One of the best ways to increase your chances of landing that interview is to show your face at every possible opportunity available. Depending on the recruitment process, most resumes only get a 20 second scan before a decision is made on whether or not an interview will be offered to that candidate. Instead of being one of thousands of faceless names on a sheet of paper, you want the recruiter to see your name and actually remember the positive (hopefully) impression you made when you spent that Friday night learning more about the company at an info session instead of going out to another house party with your squad. Being able to approach someone and chat them up may not be everyone's strong suit, so be sure to get a head start with these events. You will get loads of practice with perfecting your elevator pitch and selling yourself in the best possible light.
Be patient: Don't go overboard since the bulk of your networking should have already been done and now you just need to be patient with HR to get back to you. Remember that once the interview is over, there is really nothing much more you can do to influence the decision on whether you got the job offer or not. So, stay positive and be calm and patient when it comes to getting a reply back - offers can be made anywhere between 1 day - 2 weeks!
Say your thank-you's: After the interview is finished, write a thank you note to not only your interviewers, but also to anyone you met along the way (HR representatives, current employees, etc.) who had taken the time out of their day to grab coffee, lunch or had helped you land the interview. This is an easy way to stay connected and shows that you are appreciative of the effort that someone may have put in to help you out!
After the Offer Acceptance
Use LinkedIn to your advantage: If you've ever struggled with being unsure of the best way to stay in contact with people and what to say when you do email them, then LinkedIn should be your best friend. From sharing interesting articles on people's pages or via direct message to commenting on activity from a network's feed, you are sending subtle reminders about your interest and support in their interests. Those small gestures will come a long way in the future when you have topics that you can bring up in conversation when you do meet again or have a more substantial conversation.
If you didn't accept the offer. If you're doing some hardcore recruiting, chances are you are going to have multiple offers land in your lap. You can't possibly take all of them, so you choose and reject the rest. Just because you choose to go one route with your career does not mean you have to sever ties and relationships you built with people who were part of the process from firms and companies that you didn't choose. Add them on LinkedIn, send occasional emails, and stay in touch. You never know if you will want to re-interview for a different position in the future or want valuable advice about a career change a few months or years down the road
Once You Start Working!
Meet with those you met at the interview: Start building your network with people who you have already met and built a connection with. Since you did receive the job offer, it is safe to say that the interviewers you met already have a positive impression of you, so reach out to them the first couple of weeks on the job to catch up!
Make an effort to keep in contact with people you met at training: Training is one of the best opportunities out there to build your network since there will be hundreds of fellow new grads who are eager to make friends and meet each other. However, once training ends and the real job starts, it is very easy to get overwhelmed with your everyday tasks that you start to lose some of the relationships that you had built with your peers during the training period. Make a conscience effort to stay connected by grabbing lunch/coffee or even using your company's instant messaging system every so often to catch up and ask how they are doing.
Extracurriculars: Ah, remember all of those after-school activities and sports teams you were part of in high school? And the million and one things you were juggling to be involved in during your college days? Well, folks, we are happy to confirm that extracurriculars are very much part of "the real world" too, and the secret to juggling a bustling career while being involved in ten other side projects and trying to volunteer is something that we are still trying to decode. Whether it's being on the social committee and helping to plan the next corporate bash for your office, or helping project management teams with the next slide deck of a professional network's upcoming quarterly meeting, the options out there are pretty much endless. Through these extra activities that span beyond your 9-5 duties, you will meet a plethora of people, and you will get to know them more with repeated meetings and face-time.
Information interview requests: One of the reasons why new graduates struggle to transition into the working world post-graduation is that they become a small fish in a big pond again. So while you may have been the cream of the crop at your University or at your old job, it's important to keep in mind that that may very well be the case for everyone else you are starting with. When the pressure is on to make a name for yourself in this new environment, stay calm and know that it takes time to get to know people again, form meaningful relationships, and gain that all-so-important trust. Once you start working, make an effort to email and then meet at least 3-5 new people every week. Start with those who have started a couple months or a year or two before you, introduce yourself briefly and your areas of interest, and ask to set up a quick face-to-face chat or phone call if they have time in their schedule. Chances are, you probably already know a few people working at the company or firm, whether they are friends or people you met through your interview process. Start by asking for their suggestions on who would be best to chat with about XYZ, and hopefully they will be able to recommend you a few helpful people to talk to, including people in higher management. You'll be surprised about the complicated "network" ;) of people that know each other through different workstreams and various relationships.
Keep going: You can never know enough people. Everyone forms connections, make friendships, and "network" their entire lives. Just because you landed that interview or started a new job does it mean you have a timeline or deadline when to do this. Treat everyday as an opportunity to genuinely get to know others and reciprocate by being the authentic version of yourself. In the long run, you may just come to find how helpful those relationships are when you're looking for a new job, apartment, or a friend to lean on!
As always, thank you for supporting and reading our blog. Please leave us with any comments or networking tips you have that might be helpful for us!
P.S. If you haven't checked out part 1 and 2 of the series, check them out 1) Landing the Interview and 2) The Interview.
Jessica & Melissa
Location: Fulton Center