Your Networking Circles
Too many students mistakenly think their network must be made up only of hiring managers or senior people. Your network is actually much, much bigger than that.
- Your closest networking circle is your friends and family – After all, who else knows you best and would be most willing to help you?
- School affiliations – This includes classmates, alumni, professors and staff from GWSB AND your previous schools.
- Work affiliations – people you know from work: former and current teammates and managers as well as vendors, partners or clients.
- Professional affiliations – which include clubs, industry and cultural associations you join or follow.
- Social and volunteer connections – This circle includes people who share your interests (like church or volunteering) and hobbies (like sports, music, anything you do for fun).
- Situational circle – includes anyone you meet – on the metro, on the plane, standing in line at Starbucks, on vacation… the possibilities are endless.
The Basics of Networking
First of all, be a good listener and observer and notice what is important to the person you are interested in building the relationship with.Dale Carnegie said,
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Really take that to heart. Second, once you notice the things that interest the other person, identify one or two things where you genuinely share that interest. This will be a common connection that you can build on. Third, in your interactions with that person, focus on how you can add value to them in whatever small way you can rather than thinking about what they can do for you.
Successful Networking Prototypes
The Charmer – Charismatic, charming person who naturally draws in people. Often supremely confident, outgoing, witty, persuasive, memorable. The Charmer’s gift is her ability to make an impression and bring a spark to the conversation.
Typical Behavior: Comfortable telling an engaging story to a group of people or being the center of attention.
Pitfalls: Inappropriately dominates the situation; could come across as shallow, arrogant or selfish.
The Talk Show Host – Engaging, likeable person who draws out the best in people. Often supportive, empathetic, personable. The Talk Show Host’s gift is his ability to make people feel they are the smartest, funniest, best version of themselves when interacting with him.
Typical Behavior: When someone is telling a story in a group, adds a comment or asks a question that adds something new or funny to the story.
Pitfalls: Strikes the wrong balance between not stepping into the limelight enough and taking too much attention from the “guest”.
The Gentle Journalist – Insightful, knowledgeable person who knows how to ask questions that draw out other people. Often well-researched, personable and a good listener. The Gentle Journalist’s gift is her ability to keep the conversation going by asking good questions that are thoughtful and also interesting to answer.
Typical Behavior: Finds topics that are interesting to the other person and asks questions around those topics.
Pitfalls: Asks too many questions without genuine interest; tries to ask questions in order to look “smart” but comes across as fake or challenging instead.
The Connector – Engaging, caring person who likes to help people by introducing them to others or passing along knowledge. Often very interested in keeping up-to-date with what’s going on around them. The Connector’s gift is his ability to keep track of all the people he knows and having an instinct for who would benefit from an introduction or other resource.
Typical Behavior: At a cocktail reception, will introduce two people to each other based on mutual interests.
Pitfalls: Mistakenly makes unwanted introductions or gets too involved without being asked.
The Philanthropist – Giving, caring person who naturally wants to assist others. Often instinctually looks for ways to provide service, knowledge or help. The Philanthropist’s gift is her ability to notice what others need and find ways to add value.
Typical Behavior: At a career fair, might notice that the career fair rep needs help carrying boxes or needs some water and offers to help.
Pitfalls: Offers of help might appear contrived if they are not truly needed or genuine; mistakenly makes unwanted offers of help.
Bad Networking Stereotypes
The Squirrel – Aimlessly collects business cards without focus on how to build the relationship further. Chooses quantity versus quality of connections. Not strategic about building network.
Typical Behavior: At a career event, runs around to meet as many people as possible without thoughtfully engaging in any one conversation.
Tips for Success: Change focus to quality not quantity; look for common connections to help build the relationship.
The Stalker – Persistently reaches out to a contact even though there is no reciprocation. Defines a “good” contact as someone who is a hiring manager and recruiter and tries to stay in touch solely for the purpose of a job lead.
Typical Behavior: Will email a recruiter repeatedly even if there is no response.
Tips for Success: Expand networking circle beyond just recruiters and hiring managers; look for ways to keep in touch that are not about wanting job leads; stop reaching out if there is no response after a few attempts.
The Non-Stop Talker – Solely focused on delivering pitch or talking about themselves. Does not notice if the other person loses interest or is bored and takes no interest in making the interaction conversational.
Typical Behavior: Uses the same pitch no matter what the situation or circumstance is.
Tips for Success: Listen and ask questions; respond to what seems interesting to the other person.
The Taker – Self-interested person who thinks “what’s in it for me”. Forgets or ignores that networking is a two-way street. Does not express appreciation for help.
Typical Behavior: Asks a new contact to make a referral even though there is no relationship built at all.
Tips for Success: Look for ways to give back; focus on relationships not job leads.
The Robot – Thinks acting professionally means showing no personality or emotions. Due to nerves, shyness or other reasons, uncomfortable opening up.
Typical Behavior: At a career event, might not be comfortable talking about non-career topics.
Tips for Success: Show some personality while being professional; open up and take interest in others.