How can I network better to achieve my goals? I have gotten this question from several students who are introverts or students who are told that networking is important, yet they are not sure how to do this thing that so many deem as important. When I was younger, I hated networking because I thought it was superficial and I do not thrive off of superficial connections. Nor do I want someone speaking to me based off of what I can do for them. Yet, many mentors and other professionals would constantly reiterate how important networking was and will be in the future. So, if I was going to network as they say, I at least wanted to do it my way. Below I offer a few tips on networking as a young adult to help with achieving your goals, and in a way that you don't feel like you are meeting people just to be meeting people.
Before I start, I think it is helpful for people to know where they can network. In my opinion, that can be anywhere. Most people think of socials as the ultimate networking place, but anytime you connect with someone that person could potentially become a part of your network. So, remember networking is to build your network of knowledge and resources.
Before you enter any space where you will be networking or before you might have the opportunity to network, set your mindset. I have met quite a few young adults who let the fact that they are young deter them from connecting with others. Do not let the fact that you are young keep you from connecting with others. So, while you may be young there are great things you have done or plan to do. Concentrate on those great things and know that individuals are typically more open to assisting young adults who genuinely want help and to better their lives. For example, you may be the president of an organization at your school. Think about the requirements and characteristics that you hold that helped you to get that position. Was it your passion for the school? was it your organization skills? Was it your plan to increase club membership? Whatever the case, commend yourself for an accomplishment before entering a situation where you might network so that you remember the great things about yourself and increase your confidence.
To get in the right mindset you should also prepare a 30 second elevator speech about your future goals. In this case, you are less likely to be anxious about interacting with others in a social setting and you'll be letting others know about your future goals and they can assist if they are able. For example, if you have a future goal to write a book, your engagement with others may go something like this: "Hi, my name is April, I attend Student Goal University and i'm an English major with a future goal to write a book about XYZ." This intro helps others to learn about you, but can also move the conversation to tips on what you can start doing now to move toward that goal and possible people who can assist you with getting there. I know for myself as a young adult, when I mentioned my career goals, I would have others mention someone they knew or someone they could connect me with to answer questions. Being able to articulate your goals is a great way to connect with others. In the same way, others may have goals for which you can offer assistance or tips.
During conversations, find something in common with people. Ask yourself, what information does this person have that I genuinely want to learn more about? In what ways could I genuinely assist this person if they have a need? If you find nothing on that level, move on. Using conversations to learn more about people or things can be fun and informational. It is also better than just networking with people based on what they can do for you. As I stated before, I am not up for superficial connections and I do not like holding small talk conversations. If the connection is not genuine to the point that I am interested in the conversation and want to learn something new or offer my assistance, I move on. So, I do not recommend situations where you have to small talk or force a conversation. That's awkward and not worth it in my opinion.
After the initial meeting or connection, nurture the relationship. You can do this by inviting them for coffee or lunch, asking questions about their area of expertise, or offering your assistance if you can help them in any way. Going out for coffee or lunch will allow you the opportunity to discuss topics in depth that were of interest to you in the initial conversation. Asking questions also helps nurture the relationship. For example, if their area of expertise is financial planning, you can ask them questions every now and then about financial planning or what you can do to get on track with your finances. Also keep in mind with this method that there may be certain services that people get paid to advise others. This means they might charge you for extensive advice. I see many people who readily offer free advice to young adults, but that does not mean that everyone will, so keep in mind that some experts use their area of expertise to pay their bills. It is also important that you do not have a one-way relationship where the other person is constantly offering you advice and there is nothing you can offer them. Keeping with the example of a financial planner, maybe you could offer to bring them to your school to offer advice to other students about financial planning. This helps to expand their network and also shows that you are not just there for a one-way relationship.
Hopefully the information in this blog offers some tips you can use as a young adult to network. If you liked this blog, be sure to visit www.elaeducationservices.com for more development tips for young adults.