In today’s increasingly competitive workplace, having solid personal connections is a huge competitive advantage for your career. Whether that means going for an informal coffee chat or getting offered an internship, there’s one key component that can unlock these opportunities: networking.
The ability to network is a key skill that all students and professionals should grasp. Our pillar event, International Women’s Day Gala, is the perfect opportunity for you to develop or polish your networking abilities as well as meet like-minded peers and professionals.
Here are YWiB SFU’s top FIVE do’s and don’ts for networking:
Prepare conversation starters - Have go-to questions in mind that may help you kickstart or continue a conversation, and think about what you want to learn from each person.
Follow the 80/20 rule - Let the other person talk 80% of the time, ask questions 10% of the time, and talk about yourself 10% of the time.
Give firm handshakes & show-off that smile - Giving a great first impression goes a long way. A big smile and a firm handshake shows that you are confident and professional. You never know when you’re going to meet someone who can get your foot through the door.
Create genuine connections - It is not what you know or who you know but how well you know each other that counts. Be authentically YOU and find common interests with the other person. Remember: quality over quantity!
Follow-up - Ask for a business card, send an email, invite them to connect on LinkedIn; whatever it is, make sure to keep in touch. What’s the point of meeting someone if you don’t plan on seeing them again?
Start your conversation with a business card - The goal of networking is to connect through meaningful conversation. Once you’ve built a rapport, that is the right time to ask for the other person’s business card and offer yours.
Keep talking about yourself - Remember the 80/20 rule? Ask questions and listen to what others have to say. People love talking about themselves and their expertise. Networking sessions are meant for you to learn more than what you already know.
Sit when being introduced - When being introduced, stand up, look the person in the eye and shake their hand. Sitting down gives a bad vibe and shows a lack of respect for the other person!
Tune out - If you find you don’t have similarities with the person you’re talking to, keep listening! Everybody has a story that provides a learning experience.
Stand around looking at your phone - Your emails and Instagram notifications can wait. Just because a side conversation started or someone that you were speaking to has been interrupted doesn’t mean it’s time for you to start checking your phone. Not only is it unprofessional, it also shows disinterest and a lack of maturity.
While developing the right relationships have the potential to open doors to the professional world, it’s important to keep in mind that networking is not everybody’s cup of tea. The ability to network is a learned skill, not an inherent one. With time, patience, and practice, anyone can become a great networker!