Networking after college may feel like a struggle, but it’s one of the most valuable skills you can develop in the working world. However, there are a few social norms that you need to remember when building new relationships. This is especially true when introducing yourself to an established person in your field. Below, we’ve shared a few common-sense do’s and don’ts when job networking for recent graduates.
When meeting new people in a business setting, the best way to build trust is to talk about something completely unrelated. Sports, music, food, and travel are all great places to start. Remember, you’re forming relationships, and people prefer working with likeminded folks in their industry. Make friends first, and the business will follow.
Even if you’re still living at your parents’ house, you need to come to a networking event looking successful. That means having a clean haircut, appropriate clothes, and a genuine smile on your face. Networking after college can be scary, because you’ll often feel like a tiny fish in a huge pond. However, this feeling can be mitigated with a positive attitude and confidence in your step.
Nobody likes a person who hogs the entire conversation. Even if you are genuinely excited about your new project, it’s still better to focus on the other person. Ask questions about their passion, listen intently to their stories, and learn from their wisdom. People always appreciate a good listener.
Networking isn’t about the hard sell. It’s a time to build rapport, have some light conversation, and then exchange business cards if you want to continue chatting. Save your pitch for a one-on-one meeting, when you have the new contact’s full attention.
Job networking for recent graduates can cause tremendous anxiety, especially if you’re not the most sociable person. It might feel more comfortable to just talk to friends at a networking event, but you won’t be building new connections. Whenever possible, avoid the impulse to be a wallflower.
Lastly, don’t make a scene! Even though the event might have an open bar with delicious cocktails, you should never get drunk around potential business contacts. A few drinks throughout the night is fine, but if you’re slurring words and making crude jokes, it’s probably time to cut your losses. First impressions are extremely important. Feel free to have fun, but don’t make people uncomfortable.