The year is 2016. You've just closed a deal for the business opportunity of a lifetime and opened the door to new horizons for your career. The question - how'd you pull it off? The answer - networking.
In a world of ever-expanding digital communication, the word "networking" is often associated with a string of retweets, Instagram likes, and the occasional LinkedIn request. However, the real benefits of networking come with strategic and intentional communication.
As a generation steeped in the digital age, millennials have the tools necessary to get the most bang out of their networking buck. That's why we've compiled a list of ways to tap into your networking potential.
Navigate the business waters. As the saying goes, "there are plenty of fish in the sea." This is especially true for the business community. There are numerous invaluable connections from all walks of life that could potentially help you in some way or another. However, Rome's network wasn't built in a day. Start by honing in on business professionals in your industry of interest. By establishing contacts within your career field, you're creating a path to future interaction and furthered insight into the inner workings of the industry.
Become a follower. (But, don't make it creepy.) Social media is a good way to get your foot in the door with new contacts. By following industry professionals on platforms where they are most active, like Twitter or LinkedIn, and engaging in the content that they post, you are making your name and your presence known. Follow their activity and strive to create professional and meaningful interaction.
Go off the Grid. With so much of business conducted digitally, a face-to-face conversation is becoming more rare, which makes it all-the-more effective. Attend events and get involved in business-focused organizations, like your local chamber of commerce. Connecting in-person with a business professional is a great opportunity to make a favorable impression, while also fostering unique discussion and adding a human element to your already-established digital presence.
Talk, don't squawk. Too many times, young professionals make the mistake of selling their experience and skillset from start to finish. While pitching your potential isn't always a bad thing, it can often lead to ending connections before they begin in networking scenarios. Rather than fixating on you, focus on them. Initiate a discussion about their passion for the industry. Glean the tricks of the trade from their years of experience. Turn the tables on traditional topics and become genuinely interested in who they are as a business professional and what they have to offer.
After strengthening your connections, it's not unusual to find yourself with a vast network of industry professionals, excited about engaging you in the future of the field and ready and willing to help you kick-start your career.