The Nuances of Networking: Navigating Your Starving Contact List in a New Career
Let’s start this off by setting a scene in New York City in June; right after college graduation season. It’s hot out, we’ve relaxed for a few weeks to unwind & decompress after finals, but now reality is setting in; we kinda need to get a job. We’ve got some job experience under our belts and some great skills that speak for themselves. We’re steadily on LinkedIn, USAJOBS, and other recruitment platforms but think we might have a better chance if we actually knew someone that had an ‘in’ with the hiring process. We start doing some digging on social platforms and, when we meet up with our friends, we start asking them if they know anything about that job or company or have any connections for the jobs we’re interested in. Thus starts the networking process.
Google defines ‘networking’ as the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Its basically become a necessity to our career’s survival. Like … what water is to our livelihood, networking is to our careers. Career advancement, progression, connections, and endorsements seem to rely more heavily on who we know and our work ethic and less on what we know because professional recommendations hold more weight than our own opinion on our abilities. There’s a level of bias that comes with speaking to our own capability.
So, how does a person network when in a new career? How would someone gain exposure and professional recommendations and/or criticism when they have little-to-no work experience? Here are a few things to consider:
Well, believe it or not, college professors and advisors can help immensely. They can capture the amount of dedication and professionalism you’ve displayed while detailing the caliber of your work ethic. Your professors, in particular, can attest to how well you work on a team and when given solo assignments. These are all important traits to capture and display when searching for new job opportunities and/or stepping into a new career field. When worded properly, it can go a long way.
Document everything you do! Think about how detailed you can get when creating a LinkedIn profile. While resumes are normally constrictive and force you to put your best work bullets on paper, LinkedIn is a social space that gives you an unlimited amount of space to display every task you’ve completed within different companies & entities. Take advantage of it! Living in this digital age allows us to share everything we do. Use it for good and SECURE THE BAG (and your future)!
If you want to progress, you absolutely cannot be a wallflower. – This one is for my fellow introverts. Ladies, you don’t have to be obnoxious but you absolutely have to make yourself known. Everyone’s vying for the next opportunity to take their net worth to the next level and make themselves a necessity in this competitive society. You don’t have to be rambunctious and in people’s faces but it’s imperative that you speak up and make good conversation.
Do everything from your heart. – Girl please (and I cannot stress this enough) pay attention to what I’m about to say. If you’ve been paying attention to the news, been on social media, and, hell, simply living… you’ve probably noticed how heartless this world is. It’s ridiculous. So in a world that’s heartless and cold, be warm and caring. Actually care about what you do so much that you feel your heart grow a few sizes every time you talk about it and explain it to someone. Let the love, excitement, and warmth you have for your business, talent, and/or skill radiate so much so that the person you’re speaking to can’t help but be happy for you. And, even if you don’t get the opportunity you’re hoping for, rest assured that the person/people you were speaking to felt that warmth as well. It’s a refreshing experience. That can help you get your foot in the door for something that might be life changing.
While jumping into a career can be a little scary, networking can make the process feel a little less bumpy. Having confidence in yourself, your abilities, & your undeniable, relentless work ethic is enough to put you in the spotlight. All you have to do is make sure you shine. Once people start to see your light and feel your glow, girl… you got it in the bag.