What’s the first tip most will give you when it comes to securing a job? Network. A task that seems so simple, yet gives most of us the strongest anxiety. What do you say? What’s the best way to start? How do you not seem like an annoying stalker? I’ve got you covered. Here’s how to get started!
RESEARCH THEM (DON’T DIG TOO DEEP)
The best way to engrave yourself into someone’s memory is by making a personal connection with them. If you have an interview or meeting with a potential mentor, it doesn’t hurt to do a little research on them first. This does not mean stalk them on Facebook and ask how their son Alex is doing in school. This will scare them and if you are seeking a job, you won’t get it.
Do light research, if you can find them on LinkedIn, a business and employment-oriented social networking service, see if you can find anything you and the person have in common. For instance, if you go to the same university that they graduated from, talk about that. If you two are apart of the same fraternity or sorority, connect with them on that and you’ll be unforgettable.
In order to let someone know that you are interested in what they are talking about, ask questions. This gives them a chance to show off their knowledge and in turn make them like you more for listening. Listening is a key component of networking because it will provide you with information for later. You never know what you may hear or learn that will put you ahead in your career!
LOOKS DO MATTER
As much as we would love to believe that we aren’t being judged off our outward appearance, this is not our reality. When you walk in the door, the employer is judging you, so if your shirt isn’t ironed or you are wearing your hair messily – they notice. What you look like actually says a lot about you, if you don’t take the time to look decent it can hint that you may be unorganized, you don’t pay attention to detail, or that you simply don’t care how you look. These are all traits that employers try to avoid when hiring new people. So networking isn’t just verbal, it is visual also.
GET CONTACT INFO AND FOLLOW UP
After meeting with someone in your field or a person that could be beneficial to your future, get their contact information . Most professionals have business cards on them and it is not a big deal to give you one. Once receiving someone’s contact information don’t wait until you need their assistance to reach out, send them an email thanking and reiterate who you are so they remember you.
Send out impersonal e-cards during the holidays just to keep the line of communication open because you might not need their assistance for several years. Let them know of your accomplishments you both relate on. Let them know you are still actively reaching for your goals so if they know of any open opportunities, they’ll pass them on to you.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR SKILLS IN YOUR STORIES
When talking to business professionals or potential employers, don’t just tell any story, tell focused stories. Focused stories are real events that happen in your life, but highlight your skills at the same time. These are essentially stories that make you look good. Let’s say you’re talking to a potential employer and the job you want requires strong leadership skill. You should tell a story about how you took charge and lead your friends to safety in a dangerous (but legal) situation. Try not to tell pointless stories about how your cute your cat is, unless you’re applying at a pet store, then go for it.
KEEP YOUR LINKEDIN UPDATED
Your LinkedIn is almost like a web searchable resume that speaks for you before you meet or get contacted by a future employer/mentor. It is in your best interest to keep it up to date and professional. Make sure you have a clear and professional profile picture – no selfies please. Have a clear and welcoming summary about yourself. List all the jobs you have had and currently have along with your skills.
WATCH SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE
Social media is free, fun, and almost unavoidable. Jobs know this, which is why they will try to find you on social media, so watch what you post. Your job isn’t looking for someone who uses a lot of curse words online, so try not to. Your job doesn’t want to see you half naked or drinking alcohol online, especially if you’re underage. Watch what you post because not only will your friends see, but possibly your boss too.
My rule of thumb when it comes to social media is, if you wouldn’t show it to your mother, then don’t post it online. Remember what goes online is on there forever.