Your network of professionals can never be too big.
No matter what type of person you are, networking is an important skill to possess and develop.
Every connection you make can potentially be the key to your next job. Learning to present yourself well and being a genuine individual will take you far in your post-collegiate life.
In-person networking is one of the strongest networking assets to utilize. People remember in-person connections and having the ability to make a good first impression is key to your future success. Even something as simple as having a quick conversation with someone can help you land the job you're looking for.
One of the most beneficial and effective types of in-person networking is the informational interview. Informational interviews are traditionally less stressful than job interviews since the end goal is not a job, but a connection. The purpose of these interviews is to learn about a job or industry and the experiences of the person you are meeting. Just remember to keep it professional!
Before setting up an informational interview, make sure you do your research on the person, company and industry —this will help you become more familiar with the interviewer, what they do, and why it is interesting to you. Then find their e-mail, Twitter handle or other contact information so you can get the conversation started and ultimately set something in person.
A helpful tip for your in-person is to prepare a list of questions that you want to ask them that will help guide the conversation and avoid any awkward silences. It will also show them that you are prepared and truly value their time.
After any networking experience, it's a good idea to get his or her business card or additional contact information, such as a LinkedIn account. Get in the habit of sending a follow-up email after your meeting thanking them for their time. A nice, but not required gesture would be to send a handwritten letter (on nice paper) or a card thanking them via snail mail.
Of course, the most important detail to takeaway on in-person networking is to start now! Networking knows no bounds and now is a great time to get started on establishing a well-connected future.
Check back soon for Intro to Networking Part II: Social.
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