There is a great article from Bloomberg Business Week back in 2012 when I was applying my MBA that I think it still quite pertinent today. It’s about networking. Knowing how to network, even if it makes you uncomfortable at first, could be deciding factor of whether or not you reach your goals.
And this holds true for everything you might want to achieve, not just moving up the ranks in your career. By starting my networking early, even before getting into the school of my choice I was able to head the club that I wanted to, get the internship of my dream, and secure a full-time job less than a month after graduating.
5 Steps to Better Networking
STEP 1: Create your elevator pitch. Build your personal story and test it. Keep honing it until you get it just right.
STEP 2: Make an A-List (people who work for companies I want to work for) and a B-List (people with potential connections to people at companies I want to work for)
STEP 3: Develop a plan for outreach. Start at the bottom of your list and work your way up. But the time you reach the best contact you will have a lot of practice reaching out and your pitch will be well refined and much more effective.
STEP 4: Return the favor (provide them with useful knowledge). After each meeting take note of what you discussed and when you send back a Thank You, include something that your contact might be interested in, be it an article, another contact, a project you worked on and want to share. Be sure to keep up to date with the news and interesting things in your industry to have something intriguing to share. I use Pocket and Feedly to keep track of news and interesting website I come across.
STEP 5: Spread the Word. Let people who helped you along the way know where you ended up and keep in touch. Building meaningful relationships requires nurturing and follow-up.
And if you think networking is not for you, it doesn’t have to be as hard and forced as your might think. I was able to secure my post-MBA job by meeting a friend of a friend during a 10K run in Barcelona. So, keep a look out when you are doing things you ar passionate about. You never know who you are going to meet and when the next networking opportunity will be.
Be yourself, be open and start talking!
And to help in your networking, check out my article Top 15 Books for Business School Students.