“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Heard it before? Well, it’s true and important to understand. As a [somewhat] recent college graduate, I am familiar with the struggle to get noticed. It can be intimidating and discouraging entering what seems like a veteran-dominated working world, but with some confidence and strategy you may find yourself networking your way through the experience barrier. Here are a few things to remember when building and leveraging a network:
1.) Master the ability to identify appropriate and valuable opportunities.
Identifying the right time to approach someone is just as important as figuring out who to target. There is surely a time and place for everything, and when it comes to showcasing your worth, timing is key.
2.) Understand the line between ambition and aggression, and DO NOT cross it.
Ambition is a trait most employers seek, and if done correctly, your networking habits will brilliantly highlight your success-driven character. Aggression is simply annoying, and will get you nowhere fast when it comes to making an impression on those whom you admire professionally.
3.) Leave your timidity behind.
It is important to acknowledge networking as a form of personal branding. You are essentially looking to convey your personality and skills through a simple conversation. There are two important words that shoot to my brain when networking – own it. You never know who may be listening when it comes to talking with established professionals.
Networking is a skill that can be learned, exercised, and mastered. These are just a few things to keep in mind when communicating with potential mentors and employers. It is important to identify your personal value proposition and strategize ways to display your key attributes subtly in conversation. If done correctly, networking can easily turn the corporate ladder into a fast-moving escalator.