What is networking?
Have you ever heard: “It’s not what you know but who you know.”
Networking is simply the act of interacting with other people to exchange information and acquire contacts, especially to further one’s career or improve one’s business. – Google
“The process of developing and using your contacts to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence or serve your community.” – Entrepreneur
You already have a network of people and you may not realize it. Your existing network consists family, friends, professors, neighbors, classmates, etc.
Do I have to?
Yes! I know that networking sounds scary, but it is necessary for your future. If you want grab a friend and attend an event together. Companies are using internal referrals to hire people. Don’t wait until graduation. Start now! Start in your comfort zone by talking with people in your existing network. Networking will help you make the connections that will get you an internship or job in the future.
Where do I go?
Start out in your comfort zone by attending an event at your school or church. Then, start researching to find other local networking events. Bring a friend! There are tons of opportunities for networking in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce – Their events page lists several events in town where you could meet various professionals.
Building Bridges for Women in Business – They have a networking luncheon every month at Black Finn in the Town Center. Men and women are welcome. Explore the college page of their website.
Eventbrite – Has lots of different events in Jacksonville where you could do some networking.
Hands on Jax – Volunteering is a great way to build your network! Look at Hands on Jax for volunteer opportunities where you could meet lots of great people.
MeetUp – There are so many networking groups on this website from which to choose.
What do I need?
Business cards! Whether you are a senior in high school or in college you should have a business card. Professionals always carry them and when you attend any event or meet someone randomly it is great to be able to hand them your card and vice versa. It is recommended that you carry at least five in your wallet at all times. You never know who you will meet! When you are going to a networking event, you definitely want to carry more. On you card you do not need a lot of info. Click here to find examples of what your business card should look like. First In Print is a local business, which can help you with all your printing needs and even graphic design if needed. They do great work and their business cards are affordable. Click here to visit their website.
What about social networking?
Social networking is also important. Make a LinkedIn account if you have not already. Click here to make your account. LinkedIn is a must, especially because hiring professionals are searching for your LinkedIn profile before considering you for a position. Pick a professional photo for your profile. Complete your profile and actively use the LinkedIn. Comment on articles and connect with people. It is a great resource.
Use Twitter as well and BE PROFESSIONAL about what you post. Put your Twitter handle on your business card. Also, you will want to purchase a URL for yourself. Example: NAME.com, NAME.me. Hiring professionals are looking for your personal URL. Design your website and create a page with your bio, resume, etc. If you already have a blog or website with a URL that’s great! Make sure and include a personal URL on your business card.
What do I say to people?
Be confident! Compliments are a great conversation starter
You will need to develop an elevator pitch, which is a short speech about yourself. Write it out beforehand and practice saying it over and over. If it takes you longer than 60 seconds to say it is too long. Lear exactly how to word your elevator pitch by clicking here for detailed instructions and guidance.
When you are talking to other people don’t only talk about yourself. Ask the other person questions. For example: How did you get started with your business or career?
Sometimes networking may not go as planned or as you hoped. The more events you go to and the more people you talk to the better you will get at networking. You never know who you will meet that might take you to that next level.
If someone you spoke to gave you great advice or even a number to call follow up with a phone call or e-mail saying thank you, etc.
Use the Evernote app on your phone to scan people’s business cards and you can automatically upload their info to your contacts in your phone. This way you won’t have tons of business cards that you are trying to hold on to and sort through. You can create groups if needed for your contacts. For example, doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, etc.
Are you ready?
Get out there and start networking. If you need help with all of this and just can’t figure out how to get started contact Student Futures today for a FREE academic coaching consultation. An academic coach can help you with career planning, goal setting, and/ or managing your time. We want to help you on your road to success.