Welcome back, everyone! Today, we’re regrouping after a brief hiatus (I traveled on Birthright to Israel for the last 2 weeks!) on our post-graduate series where we are aiming to prepare you to navigate all of the change that comes with graduating from college. With that, we know that many of you are feeling unsure about what your next step will look like, should be, or even could be. If that sounds like you, then we highly encourage you to read the below and learn about the value of networking to identify potential career paths and opportunities.
Over the last few years, we hope that you’ve been working to build up a bit of a network on LinkedIn. Utilizing alumni connections, as well as peers, past mentors, past colleagues (at internships or college jobs), family friends, friends of parents, friends siblings, or any connection you can fathom can help you build an online network. Once you have your ‘foot in the door’ through that primary or secondary connection, you’re set to initiate a conversation! We recommend you send a direct message on the platform and inquire about an ‘informational conversation.’ Once the date and time are set, read below to nail the preparation!
- Purpose: Before engaging in networking (calls, meet-ups, corporate events, and more), it’s crucial to conduct a quick search on the person’s (or people’s) background, a light gauge of their current work, and a few tips about their larger industry. Doing so will not only help you to avoid taking a large portion of time dedicated solely to introductions but will showcase your professionalism. Make sure to prepare specific questions relating to their career trajectory, project success, company experiences, etc. If you could ask your prepared questions to anyone, that’s a sign that they are not meaningful enough for the person you’re speaking with.
- Intentional Questions: As it relates to our point above, you should not be asking questions like, “How’d you get here?” or “So, what do you do?” If you’ve initiated a chat, it is likely for a specific purpose to learn more about a role. For example, if you’re speaking to someone on the public relations side of the business, focus questions around, “How have you handled our company’s relationship with X topic/company/etc.? How much of your time do you spend avoiding negative PR vs creating positive PR?” Always make the employee feel valued! After all, they dedicated a portion of their day specifically to you.
- Extra Tip: Set yourself up for a seamless conversation by noting the topics you’d like to learn about in the introductory email! For example, if you’re reaching out to a Marketing employee at a brand agency, ask about specific projects, brands, or processes you are interested in so that your conversation is already on track.
- Thank Them for their Time! Always make sure to express gratitude to the person for taking up a part of their day to speak with you. Thank the person for discussing their role, opening up about a certain topic, offering advice or direction, etc. We also encourage you to follow up with a thank you note or email to wrap up the chat in a kind way.
- Maintain Professional Relationships: A coffee chat might be a periodic occurrence, but communication should not be. Make sure to maintain the relationships that you’ve worked to schedule and cultivate! Whether this means a weekly check-in, email update of your recent accomplishments, or quick link to a relevant article, make sure to keep consistent contact and follow-up after your thank you note!
- Extra Tip: Especially in instances where the employee you chatted with could assist in a future job opportunity or interview process, remember the value in creating personal relationships that span beyond the scope of day-to-day work and tasks. Showing your desire to keep up to date will undoubtedly assist you in building a support network to vouch for you as it relates to any role.
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