This blog was written by Jessica Bedore, Campus Ambassador from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
There is nothing that I can stress more than the importance of networking with professionals and putting yourself out there. If it weren’t for networking, I would have missed out on many opportunities that I have been lucky enough to take part in. In fact, I somewhat credit the fact that I got an interview for my first internship to networking. When I came across the listing for my internship at a local PR agency, I knew that I really wanted an interview. So, after I sent in my resume and cover letter, I reached out to the president of the company via Twitter. I can’t say whether or not it was the reason that I got called in for the interview was because of the tweet, but I think it may have been a factor. Either way, networking is a vital key to success.
So, you may be wondering how you should network with those in your field. It can be quite intimidating to think about striking up a conversation with a prominent professional. Trust me, though, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Here are a few tips that I have learned since I began networking:
1.) Before you do anything, make yourself some business cards. This is extremely important because you never know when you will run into someone important. You may miss a chance to network if you can’t exchange information. To make free business cards click here.
2.) Create an opening pitch. This is similar to an introduction, but it has objectives. It states who you are, where you go to school, what your major is, and what your job goals/intentions are. It should be two sentences maximum and include all of the necessary information. A good and bad example of an elevator pitch can be found here.
3.) Show respect for the professional. Just like when you are tweeting, make sure that you follow the 80/20 rule. Let the professional talk 80 percent of the time and you give your insight 20 percent of the time. This may not always be possible but it is a good exercise in listening. Often times, we are nervous when talking to someone important and this allows us to listen and take the conversation in. It also makes the professional feel respected.
4.) Lastly, remember to be yourself! Above anything, professionals are going to remember a stand-out personality. Try not to let your nervousness get the best of you, and charm them with your pearly whites!
Below is some advice from our very own Lauren Berger on networking. Take a few minutes to watch the video.