The power of networking and who you know is immense.
Many people write it off because it takes time, focus and research. Something most people don’t want to spend time on. However, if you’re young and just getting your foot in whatever industry you’re in – it’s very important. Even if you’ve been in the industry for a while it’s key to always learn more about your surroundings.
I’ve learned quite a lot over the last 3-4 years of networking, coffee chats, phone calls, lunches, etc. I was personally asked by a few friends to write a post on what I’ve learned. I was also told by my mentors, “it’s great to share your insight to the world.”
So grab a coffee, a glass of wine or whatever makes you happy & enjoy!
1. Be Prepared
Before speaking to someone, have questions laid out and follow-up questions to your questions. Sounds confusing but it makes sense. Sometimes the answers might be quick and short so always have a follow up and continue the conversation.
2. Do your research
Obviously this goes without saying. With the glory of the internet we have access to quite a lot! Take some time to see where they went to school, where they’ve worked, projects they’ve done, etc. Find connections and show genuine interest! Don’t fake it. They can tell, trust me.
3. Be calm
Again, goes without saying. It’s sort of tough getting started and talking to people you don’t know. Take a deep breath……and don’t forget to let it out. They were once in your position so they truly understand what it’s like.
4. Ask for constructive criticism
Despite the fact they don’t know you very well, show them (or send) your portfolio or pieces you have. Hopefully they’ll be able to offer criticism and show you where you can improve.
5. Don’t force the conversation
Forcing anything isn’t worth it for either party. Let things flow, probe them with questions, laugh a little. If it seems forced, tread lightly and find a common ground to lighten up the situation.
6. ALWAYS send a thank you note.
People who DON’T do this risk being forgotten or are perceived to essentially not give a crap. It takes maybe five minutes. Take the time and do it.
7. Use social media to your advantage
We belong to a generation of lurkers. Don’t lie, you’ve done it. I have and I have no shame. Look at who you follow and who they follow and so forth. Follow them., @ them, slide into their DMs! I’m dead serious – it works.
8. Stay in contact
If you see something in the news pertaining to their business, send it to them and say “Hey! This reminded me of you – hope you’re well!” It shows you remember them and still care. Don’t force it just to send a note, do it if you genuinely care.
That’s it folks! Of course, I’m always learning and you should be too. This world is changing every day and it’s a damn beautiful thing.
Keep working hard because in all honesty, it’s always who you know.
You can follow Raphaela on Twitter @RaphaelaMandel
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