Networking is the single most important thing you can do in developing a career, as well as developing friendships while in school (both high school and college). Networking is difficult initially, it takes you out of your comfort zone, but my experience has shown me that the people you want to network with feel the same way. What has always worked for me when networking is what my first boss taught me; "always give first without asking for anything in return. Add value to a person's day without asking for anything in return."
So introduce yourself with confidence, and do something for the person you want to network with; add value to their day.
Greg recommends the following next steps:
I think networking with strangers can be very difficult for some people. It is a skill that develops over time i.e. getting the comfort to start a conversation with a stranger out of thin air. I think something you can do to help prepare yourself for this situation is practice the point you want to get across. It is easier to have a conversation with someone with notes prepared. I would also recommend asking open-ended questions so that you can get to know the person you are talking to rather than yes-no questions that can be a conversation ender. For example, compare the two different questions posed:
- Do you enjoy your job?
- What do you enjoy most about your job and why?
Hopefully these tips will help you in your networking endeavors! Good luck :)
Networking can sometimes be daunting as most people do not like stepping out of their comfort zone, but the more you do it the easier it becomes. If you know which industry you would like to work in, I suggest you look into joining a local professional organization for that industry. Many have reduced membership dues for students and/or young professionals. Then, I recommend attending as many of their meetings and events as possible. Approach other members, explain that you are interested in working in their field, and ask them questions about what they do, how they got started, and what they like/dislike about their job. You will be surprised to learn that many people love talking about themselves and will gladly share their experiences with you!
Eric recommends the following next steps: