The term ‘networking’ or ‘schmoozing’ is increasingly perceived as ‘using’ people for commercial or personal advantage and as an intrusion into another’s personal space. However, performed well, networking is a social exercise, enjoyable for all concerned and involves giving as well as taking.
However unappealing the term, networking is about taking action to expand your social circle by connecting with old and new friends or acquaintances and using (or creating) opportunities to meet and become known to new people. It can raise your profile and help you refine and demonstrate important ‘soft’ skills such as being able to begin, sustain and end conversations with strangers, leaving people with a positive experience of you as well as having taken something positive away from the encounter for yourself.
Technology has made ‘virtual networking’ a useful complement or even alternative to face-to-face networking.
People are the primary path to new employment. After all, the majority of job openings never get posted or publicized, and the only way to learn about them is by talking with people—the more the better.
If you are shy, networking can be nerve-wracking. If you lack a genuine interest in people, networking can be tedious. If you are using networking skills for the first time it may feel like wearing a business suit to bed. Don’t give up. As a Career Consultant I find it satisfying to see in action those who have made the transition from awkward beginner to practiced expert. Whether attending a careers fair, running a student event or even hosting a social event for family and friends, effective networking skills makes meeting new people and ensuring they enjoy meeting you (and in any context), a pleasure not a chore.
Vic Careers will be offering a new workshop, mid-year, designed to get you networking effectively. In the meantime for your entertainment (and education) watch this video to learn ‘How to Schmooze Like a Professional’.