Last summer I was literally forced to accompany my baby cousins to a park because lets accept the fact, “Kids nowadays emotionally torture you to an extent that you give in.” Moreover they are cute!!!! So coming back to the part where I was sitting and helplessly staring at them, I noticed a very strange thing. One kid was very “popular” and “cool” according to others because he knew everyone in the park. He was jumping like a teeny tiny kangaroo from one group of kids to other groups, playing all sorts of games and having the most fun. Later that evening I couldn’t help but think about the incident. It reminded me of a very important yet simple thing, “Your network is your Net worth.” Now the important question here is, “How to Network the right way?”
We are so busy in our work and lives that we tend to forget the basic rule of living, “Dependence”. We all are dependent on each other for healthy relationships whether they are Personal or Professional. Our network defines us. We need to invest into our relationships. There is a reason why Multinational Companies spend so much on Social Gatherings or monthly/yearly employee meetings and Why Employee referrals are given so much weightage. Also, Why people with better networking skills are more successful. It all makes sense now. So I decided to share a few tips and tricks that helped me to network my way in.
BUILD A CONNECTION:
Honestly, one year ago, I was at a stage in my life where I had no connections. I was new to this country and I knew no one at the University. I did not know where to start. I had no idea whatsoever that how to make connections and how to talk to Professionals without awkward pauses and awkward conversations. I thought, “Networking was a necessary evil and I had to build a network” similar to the fact that “I have to eat Broccoli because it’s healthy” (PS I am not kidding here…I hate Broccoli!!!). But my whole approach was wrong. So I changed this perception and with the help of few online videos and articles, I started understanding the concept of Networking. The secret to networking isn’t to attend a networking event and pass out as many business cards as you can. It’s not how many people you know, it is how much you have transformed yourself into a better person. It is what you are sharing with other people and how much you are enjoying the process. If you really want to learn Networking, try to make authentic connections.
DON’T HOLD BACK:
We all have our own difficulties and fears. I understand that some people have a fear of talking to other people. It is completely normal. We all have been there. Nobody was a born speaker. We all learn and in the process, we overcome our fears. We can help ourselves. As students, we have plenty of opportunities to go out and meet new people. We must attend seminars and workshops that are specially designed for this purpose. There are ‘Networking 101’ sessions that are hosted by Career Services at the University where you can meet the prospective employers or Professional people and grow your network. Participate in Volunteer programs. You will be surprised to see how many new people you come across. You can always talk to your peers, seniors, Teaching Assistants and Professors.
FOCUS ON THE RIGHT PEOPLE:
Sometimes two people fail to connect because of the difference of opinions and interests. Similar is the case when it comes to Networking. You need to figure out your goals and passions and then try to connect to people with similar goals and passions. Thus, in the beginning stage of Networking, if there comes an instance where you feel out of place, don’t loose heart. It might be the case of a “false positive” where you were trying to connect to someone completely different and you failed. It is normal too. It’s not meeting as many people as possible and hoping something will work out. Instead, you need to concentrate on the people who you know will be able to make a difference in your career.
USE SOCIAL PLATFORMS:
There are many different social platforms where we can meet different people. Facebook, LinkedIn, Glassdoor etc can help us meet our prospective connections. There are more specific platforms as well. For example, if you are interested in coding then StackOverflow, Quora, CodeRanch, Google Groups etc. can really be helpful in building your own network. Social networking demands that you share, like, comment and respond to what you read, watch and hear. The two-way process of sharing, liking, responding and commenting means you can build up a dialogue with your followers and respond to their needs. In order to maximize your presence, you have to keep your profile up to date, share relevant information, post comments and intervene in debates. This doesn’t need to take up a lot of time. Even 5-10 minutes a day should help.
Despite our best intentions, projects at work and family at home sometimes put our networking activities on the back burner. There are many reasons why we may lose contact with someone. They move away, we change jobs, one of us stops the hobby or common interest that brought us together. But it is very important to stay in contact or revive a lapsed connection. One of the easiest ways to reconnect is via email. You should always follow up with your friends, co-workers or people you have met at some Networking event. It is nice to read emails that say, “It was nice meeting you and how much you are acknowledged.” Instead of beating yourself up and following the rules of Professional emailing, give yourself permission to be human and try to add a personal touch to your message. Don’t assume that the person won’t want to hear from you. If you need a recommendation or would like an introduction, say so. Chances are your contact knows that there is some reason that you’ve reached out to them. They are waiting to hear it and are probably willing to help.
GET IT TOGETHER:
A network has become a crucial part of our Personal and Professional Lives. We need to start building our network and try to work together in a collaborative team environment. It is healthy to build symbiotic relationships where we can grow together. The best relationships are born from mutual benefit and that goes double for professionals who are building new networks from scratch.
So, here I am trying to expand my network. Hello, my name is Suchina Parihar. I am a Learning tools coach at Schulich School of Engineering. My Professional interests are D2L, TopHat, Active learning techniques etc. My personal interests include dancing, solving puzzles, blogging, gymming and cooking. Let’s get acquainted. It would be my pleasure to get to know you.