They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, so how does one go about meeting the right people? How can we use these connections to leverage a career or pursue a passion? Below are four, but not all, of the ways you can effectively network and build relationships that matter.
Hang out with the right people. This does not mean to just seek out the wealthiest, most well-known, big name people or companies. In fact, that may not be your style at all. Find people who are like you and who share the same interests and passions. People who share common attributes will be attracted to the same type of jobs and organizations. These individuals will offer experience and advice that you actually find interesting and may propel your career forward.
Be authentic. Going along with the above advice, know who you are and where you want to be. The more real you are with the people around you, the more likely you are to land a career that aligns with your personality. If you’re not sure what you have to offer yet, take a few personality tests to better showcase that authenticity. Do What You Are, StrengthsQuest and Strong Interest Inventory will all give you further insight into your behavior patterns, work preferences, strengths and weaknesses.
Utilize LinkedIn. This is the ultimate ‘people connecting people’ outlet. Strictly for professional use, LinkedIn specializes in meaningful connections. One of the best resources on this site is the “Find Alumni” section, where you can search graduates of your university, where they work, what they do, what they’ve studied and how you’re connected. Don’t worry, you’re not being annoying; they were begging for a job at one point, as well.
Follow up. You will not be offered a job by shaking the hand of a working professional, exchanging business cards and leaving. Take the extra time to shoot them an email, add them on LinkedIn, or request another meeting over a cup of coffee (you buy). People are people everywhere you go, and the only relationships that matter are those that are nurtured and invested in. Be persistent and personable, as you would with a friend.
It’s important to find the people and experiences in your life that have propelled you forward or inspired you the most. The Career Advancement Program Meaningful Connections Module inspires reflection on people you’ve met, the experiences you’ve had together, and the significance of these relationships. After all, you didn’t get where you are today on your own.