Subject: Networking Essentials For Beginners ( Inside and Outside the Office)
Networking Essentials For Beginners ( Inside and Outside the Office)
When referring to the term Networking (and no i do not mean linking your computer to WIFI ), i’m talking about the the process of “interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts”. The thought of having to endure something solely for the purpose of professional ass kissing sounds bloody boring and is also absolutely terrifying for an introvert or “freshy” intern. I haven’t always been confident in myself, I remember the day I started my first internship (at a Toronto based Canadian clothing distribution company and showroom) all I could think was; “why the hell did they bring ME on… what the fuck am I doing here?”. I’ve always had a knack for making friends though and finding something in common with almost everyone I meet. These traits have helped me push towards my dreams and acquire my own group of industry professionals, friends, peers and co-workers.
Most of the world's population logs on to some sort of social media platform everyday. We follow, read, like and share in the workplace and in our personal lives. Social media is an amazing networking tool if used in the right ways. Collaborate with others in your field of interest by participating, sharing and communicating with them on platforms like Instagram, Linked In, and Facebook. Create useful content on your own platforms to encourage engagement from your followers, start conversations that others can participate in and curate your own virtual community or “rolodex” ( that word makes me feel old) which, ultimately your main goal.
Make it Fun and Stress Free
If you’re attending your first networking event or even hosting one try to relax and focus on learning and having fun. Smile, breathe and if you feel alone, your most likely not the only one feeling that way. Keep your eyes out for someone else who’s solo and strike up a conversation. One of the best ways to sell yourself to others is to know your market. Try to do a little research before you go so if people do ask tough questions you won't be caught off guard. A glass of wine or a cocktail is helpful to loosen your nerves and it also gives you something to do with your hands if you feel hellaaa awkward. The most important tip is listen and make eye contact when your speaking with someone this shows interest and confidence and gives a great first impression.
Energy Exchanges and Bestie’s
Many successful and useful connections have come from my already existing peer group. We don’t all have the exact same interests and career goals, but each one of my friends has taught me valuable lessons and skills in life. New aspects of business, fashion, beauty, e-commerce, art, finance, sales, management and even motherhood. When we take the time to learn about the strengths and passions of those around us we grow our bank of available resources. Energy exchanges are great when working friends in related industries; you’re a designer, your friend loves modelling and you both want to build a portfolio, you can exchange “energies” and time instead of money in order to create photos and art mutually benefiting from the collaboration.
Always be cultivating your talents but don’t let them become the only things your made up of. Reflect on who you are, what your doing and what your becoming as a result of your hard work and time. We become a combination of what we spend our time doing and who we spend our time doing it with. I believe confidence is a choice and if you give yourself credit and a little bit of “fake it till you make it” ( kinda like in my first interning story) …. you will meet genuine and inspiring people, more doors will open and quality relationships will grow.
Go get em!