“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard
I love to network and think it’s one of the most important skills you could ever learn.
- Because it’s not what you know but who you know that makes the difference
- For every new person you meet a new opportunity awaits
- Having a network allows you to better yourself in ways you never thought you could
I’ve networked my way through 30 countries, six continents, five corporate jobs, and countless lifetime memories. Through my experience, I want to share some key tips I’ve used to make networking fun, less frightening and beneficial.
1. Strike Up a Conversation with Your Eyes:
“Conversation is an exercise of the mind; gossip is merely an exercise of the tongue.” – Annonymous
Before you even say anything – make sure you make eye contact!
There is no point in starting a conversation if you don’t have their attention. Once you have they’re attention start talking about a nonchalant topic, something that works well for me is asking how the weather is. If you want to get personal – ask them where they’re from, once you have passed the icebreaker stage you can deep dive and open the floor to any topic you’d like! But it is very important to have the audience’s attention before hand – otherwise you’ve lost before you’ve even started!
2. Ask Questions:
“There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions.”
– Charles P. Steinmetz
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! I swear – I dare you – ask me any question you’d like?
It’s astonishing that a lot of people out there feel intimidated or scared to ask a simple question.
I learned how to conquer this fear as an undergrad. I reached out to corporations in the Silicon Valley I wanted to work for, like Google, Adobe, Ebay Inc. and did informational interviews with influential professionals in the industries I was interested in. I received really great advice and learned a lot about the realities of what life is like working in the corporate world.
What is great about asking questions is that there is no pressure! We ask questions to learn and gain further information about a topic of interest – you never know when asking the right questions can reveal an opportunity – so as I said, ask me any question you’d like!
3. Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein
You know the feeling – sweaty palms, heart beating at a thousand miles per hour, butterflies in your stomach – it’s the moment in which we know there is a risk that offers an opportunity. It’s these unique moments where I was, at first, scared to take a risk, but took it anyway; I’ve had the biggest payouts!
A prime example is my move to Paris!
It was May 2008, my senior year of college and the start of a major recession. Luckily for me I was offered a work opportunity as a Search Quality Analyst with Yahoo! Not only had I landed a job with a Fortune 500 company, but I was lucky enough to be part of the 26% of graduates who had a job by graduation. Though I was comfortable and fortunate enough to even have a job – a once in a life time opportunity came up – a chance to move to Paris!
While a lot of you reading this may think – oh that’s an easy answer, Paris! Duh?! – It was a very difficult decision to make. Not only would I be giving up a secure job, I was going to leave friends, family, and the life I knew of 22 yrs. – and to give it all up for one yr. in a foreign country, for a job that paid half of what I was currently making?! For an outsider looking in – they’d probably think I was crazy! But I saw how much opportunity there was in such a risk: the places I’d see, the new people I’d meet, the chance to experience life in a whole new way! And so I took it!
Over the course of one year – I lived and worked in Paris for Microsoft EMEA, traveled to and discovered 17 new countries, met friends I will have for the rest of my life, and discovered a new part of me I never knew existed.
Since then I’ve continued to live life outside of my comfort zone and haven’t looked back since
4. Being Present and Being Social
“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.” -Tennessee Williams
Once you’ve immersed yourself into the networking scene – it can be somewhat overwhelming as you will notice the more people you meet – the more time is needed to engage with people. In a recent experience I had difficulty trying to be present with personal conversations I was having while simultaneously trying to be active with social media. My advice is to first be present and then socialize.
Being present is very important when trying to engage in a conversation. When being present you should continue to keep eye contact and be an active listener. By being present you are living in the moment and are able to engage in the conversation, respond, give feedback and ask questions! It is this type of in personal relationship building that will help you in the long run, as you will not only make a contact but a connection that you may find useful in the future. There is always time to be social online. Twitter never sleeps, Facebook will always have updates – the online social media world is there for us to enhance the connections we’ve made.
So continue talking, exchange contact information, connect via social media, and take it from there and watch you’re network grow!
5. Impact is Everything
“Sometimes the people whom we’ve known for only a short amount of time have a bigger impact on us than those we’ve known forever.” – Maya Angelou
The world is vast and with a population of nearly seven billion people – how do you stand out? What impact are you making on the world?
It’s important to keep in mind that for every action, conversation, or encounter we have with the world – there is an effect. We meet people in to make relationships; we make relationships to build networks, within networks we hope to build friendships and in between a good relationship growth period inspiration and impact should take place.
I’ve been networking since I was 8 yrs. old – looking back now I didn’t know it at the time – but it has allowed me to build the network and have the impact I have on the world today.
Every person I’ve meet has one way or another, impacted me. From my loving parents who’ve supported me in all my life decision making, to my travel network and AIESEC family who’ve inspired me and provided endless opportunities, to new people I meet every day that provide me with a new perspective on life…impact can happen in so many ways, it’s just up to us to make that happen!
I’ve been lucky enough to personally experience the power impact can have on an individual and I hope you have experienced the same and that this post will inspire you to go out and make a positive impact on the world