Continually improving your networking skills is crucial for young professionals and recent graduates. It can be a bit nerve-racking to attend networking events and intimidating to speak with potential clients or employers, but it’s a major mistake to avoid these opportunities. Missing out on networking events due to nerves or fear is committing a huge disservice to yourself and all that you’ve accomplished thus far. Job hunting is difficult enough when you know people in whichever industry you’re interested in, but it’s near impossible for a recent grad to break into an industry without having any connections at all. We all know that word-of-mouth is received much better and more trusted than any kind of advertisement. Networking and building valuable relationships with people in your prospective field works in the same way. Leaving memorable and positive impressions on others are catalysts of success in finding job opportunities.
Attend any local networking events in your city. These events are intended to help professionals connect with others and to build clientele and new business ventures. This is the easiest way to get to know local businesses and to get your name out there. At these events, talk to people and distribute business cards. The more people you talk to the more likely you are to have someone remember you.
The way I think of an elevator speech is this: if you’re in an elevator with your dream employer and you only have 30 seconds to impress him/her what would you say? When put on the spot, very few people are able to divulge what makes them special, necessary and essential to any business so it’s helpful to already have a spiel prepared in case you are ever put on the spot.
It’s incredibly intimidating to be around professionals who have been in the industry for several years and it’s normal to want to take a backseat in conversations for fear of sounding stupid, but don’t. You have to start somewhere and in a sea of recent grads who often take the backseat, you need to stand out. Don’t be afraid of sounding inexperiences because truth-be-told, you are inexperienced but at least you’re not afraid to be noticed and heard.
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