By: Jordan Parker
Jordan joined us for his work term from the Nova Scotia Community College and is finishing up his last week with us as part of his Advanced Diploma in Public Relations. Switching from journalism to public relations required networking with a new crowd. Through that experience, he’s learned a lot about building meaningful connections and he’s happy to share some tips with our readers.
Meeting new people can be a scary prospect, even as an adult. When I was a 17-year-old journalism student, my professor threw me headfirst into talking with strangers. I soon realized learning about the people around you can make for great stories and long-term connections. The act of meeting and cultivating business friends and contacts (known as networking) is paramount to your current and future success.
As intimidating as it may be, having coffee with industry leaders can lead to positive relationships and increase your potential career prospects.
Here are five networking tips that could bring you success in your career search:
1. There are at most six people standing between you and Trudeau
The six principles of separation theory floats the idea that everyone is connected through six or fewer “friends of friends.” While the principle has become a buzz word over the years, the basic underlying concept remains true.
Networking – and further, leveraging help from those we know – can lead to introductions to almost anyone. Six connections could even get you that signature handshake with our prime minister.
Look around you – your college roommate who still sings ‘Bobcaygeon’ off-key might have an uncle who’s a senior partner at a firm in your industry. You never know who can be invaluable or where you’ll meet them. So remember, networking doesn’t always have to be in a professional setting.
2. Put yourself on people’s radar
It’s hard to have your work noticed if no one knows you’re out there. That’s why professional networking tools like LinkedIn are so popular. You can put your credentials online to try and make connections, but if you truly want to stay visible you should solidify a connection in person.
Schedule a friendly get-to-know-you meeting with a senior manager in your industry or someone you admire. Then do just that: learn about who they are, about their industry and their challenges so you can find out what you can offer them. Although it’s a casual coffee meeting, remember to stay professional and dress the part (you want them to see you as a professional).
Afterwards, consider that hiring managers and industry leaders are more likely to respond to an email asking about something specific you discussed in person. If they had a business decision they were debating, ask where they landed on it. Always engage and listen to have the best relationships possible.
3. Play the long-game
Networking isn’t about instant returns. It’s about making connections that could potentially last a lifetime. While meeting a new colleague may not pay off instantly, it could easily present opportunities in the future.
Everyone has a story, expertise, or guidance to offer, and the benefits of networking could come weeks, months or even years after meeting and keeping in contact with someone. Schedule coffees once a month with people you’ve connected with and try to make a routine of reaching out and checking in.
4. Have fun and make friends
You have to remember that like yourself, the people you meet aren’t just their jobs. You both have interests, hobbies, favourite movies and books that go beyond the cubicles and conference rooms.
In the end, your network should be filled with people you respect and enjoy. Make lifelong connections with your network, rather than superficial ties. It’s easier to ask a friend (rather than a LinkedIn connection) for support during a job search.
5. Pay it forward
Never undervalue your own worth as an industry professional. Just as you’ve been mentored and had those relationships shape you, don’t be afraid to give advice and lend a hand to someone else. Your experiences have built wisdom of your own. If asked, share it.
Don’t underestimate the power of making and keeping relationships in business: your allies can be your best tool.