There is no getting away from it – the best jobs most often come from word-of-mouth. By word-of-mouth, I don’t necessarily mean from close friends or family, it can come from colleagues, lecturers, tutors, the corner dairy owner, ministers, shop assistants, friends of friends, people you might meet at a conference, a social event, even someone you meet while waiting for the bus! Networking can also happen electronically via LinkedIn, blogs and twitter.
The most amazing opportunities can arise when we are not even looking. Make the most of these opportunities by being alert and prepared to engage with people at any moment. Students are often intimidated when they hear the word ‘networking’ – don’t be put off by this. Networking doesn’t have to be hard and can be great fun if you remember a few key tips.
- Be natural and relaxed. The best networking happens organically. Be yourself, be curious and show a keen interest in listening to the other person’s story.
- Always be courteous and professional. Good manners and a positive manner go a long way in people wanting to engage with you.
- Nod and have eye contact, look like you really care about them.
- Maintain good body posture and be aware of the tone and speed of your voice. If networking electronically take care with your grammar, spelling and tone of your communication.
- Be prepared to put in the effort. Networking takes time and energy. Follow up on suggestions and making contact with other people who may have been recommended to you. Always remember to thank the person for their time.
- Above all be patient. It takes time for the benefits of some of your connections to come to fruition. You never know what’s around the corner!