Networking is all about discovering and utilizing connections between people and tapping into your circle of friends, family, professors, previous employers and Wake Forest Alumni. Remember, networking isn’t about schmoozing or begging for a job. Be curious about the life of the person sitting across from you, and most importantly, be grateful.
Steps you can take to find contacts to begin networking with.
How to communicate with an identified contact.
Asking questions to gain information, not a job.
So, the question is this: How do you do the work of building a strong network that can help you at some unspecified time in the future?
The good news? It’s pretty simple. Check out these words of wisdom from Allison McWilliams, Assistant Vice President for Mentoring and Alumni Personal & Career Development, Wake Forest University.
Your network is critical to both your current and future success. Below are five tips for building and maintaining your network, beginning today.
What are you working towards, either in your current role, or in the future? How can your current role or organization help to develop your skills and grow your strengths? What knowledge are you lacking about yourself? Take some time to write the answers to these questions down.
Your strong ties are those people who know you best, who most align with your values and beliefs, who are your constant champions and advocates and often will identify opportunities for you. Your weak ties are your looser connections, the people who diversify your network and your perspective, and those who can connect you to a broader range of opportunities, but may not necessarily do so of their own volition.
These are informational interviews, without the pressure of feeling like you’re asking for anything other than the other person’s time. Look around your organization and identify individuals you don’t know very well. Every other week, ask one of these people to have coffee, with the purpose of learning about his or her path, challenges and successes, and lessons learned.
Look for opportunities to volunteer, join boards, join social networks, and other experiences that expose you to a broader universe of people.
You can’t let your network sit dormant and then expect it to work for you. Cultivation is key.