For a lot of college students and young professionals, networking can sound like an overwhelming idea. When we imagine being thrown into a room full of strangers who we have little to no connection with, it can feel intimidating and even cringe-worthy. But it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, it can be as easy as shifting your approach to the parties and events that you’re already going to. As we near the busy and festive holiday season, here are three ways to turn your existing events and relationship into new opportunities.
1. Change your perspective
Whether you’re at a family holiday event, over a friend’s house for dinner, or even waiting in line at the coffee shop, anywhere can be an opportunity to network. Rather than focusing purely on small talk, strike up a casual but career-oriented conversation with the person next to you. Even if the individual isn’t directly in your line of work – we’re all a few degrees of separation from the next opportunity.
2. Get curious
In your conversations with aunts and uncles, neighbors and family friends – tap into your curiosity and get to know them even better from a work perspective. Find out what they do for a living, what they like about their job, how their business or industry works and what various job titles do. Even outside of understanding their specific career path, spend time getting to know them as a person. Remember than networking is different than job searching. Be a good conversationalist and stay open minded about getting to know how the world works in a variety of settings. You may learn a lot about careers in industries you may have never considered before.
3. Get referrals
Most people enjoy helping others make connections. Don’t be afraid to ask people if they know anyone that you could grab coffee or lunch with. Try to leave each meeting or interaction with a name or two that you can follow-up with after. And don’t forget to thank people for their time! Handwritten notes, even in the form of Holiday cards, are still a great way build and maintain relationships.
Networking can be surprisingly simple and fun – and can be done even in the most unlikely places. Stay open and interested in the world and people around you and you’ll be off to a great start.Tags: Job Market, Job Search Strategy, Networking