By: Lilia Hauenstein (@ukulilia11)
This word may sound exciting or intimidating depending on how you perceive it. Believe it or not, it’s a powerful tool when it comes to job hunting. You may find yourself trying to scout for an internship or a job opportunity, but you realized that Indeed.com or career fairs just aren’t cutting it. You want to impress upon people that you’re more than just a sheet of paper with a bullet list of skills. Well, have no fear, networking is here.
It’s not what you know…
…it’s who you know. This quote may be a cheesy one, but it’s actually very true. Let’s say you’re not entirely sure what job you want and where you want to land. Start meeting people. When? As soon as you can. Who? Your professor, your professor’s connections, your friend’s cousin, your uncle’s best friend, your co-workers’ connections, the list goes on. Where? Attend a networking event, meet people for lunch or dinner, or simply schedule a meeting at a café. Eventually, as you grow your network, there’s a greater chance you’ll meet someone who will guide you, mentor you, and possibly open up an opportunity.
People are willing to help.
Don’t be afraid to ask, no matter how difficult or scary it seems. As you get more comfortable with it, you will realize the number of people willing to assist you is higher than you expect. Whether it’s about interviewing questions, overall professionalism, how to stand out, or reviewing your resume and cover letter, there is always someone a phone call or text message away who is eager to help you.
Keep it up.
Building relationships can start with a spark, but sometimes it takes a little more fostering than that. Make the move and cultivate a connection. In order to maintain them, make a short phone call giving a life update, or send an update message with something along the lines of:
“Hi, Mr. B! I hope you’re doing well. Currently, I’ve applied to three job opportunities, and I was able to get an interview with two of them. Thanks to your support and advice, I’m confident in my interviewing skills, and I hope to continue to strengthen them. I will update you later into the process. Take care!”
People who have made an impact on you want to know what you’re up to, so keep them in the loop. On top of that, thank them for taking their time to guide you. They will appreciate it, and eventually your actions and positive professional image will be remembered.
Get your foot out the door.
Want to kill two birds with one stone? Instead of meeting with people one at a time, there are ways to network with business professionals all year long. Those include career fairs, going to PRSSA agency tours, joining organizations like WMPRSA and Chamber of Commerce, getting involved in community events, and countless other opportunities.
I’ve learned these tips and strategies throughout my college career, and they have made an impact on my professional life. During this academic year, I attended networking events and connected with numerous people. By building relationships, I would meet or update each person via phone, email, text message, or even over a coffee. Every connection I’ve made over time has helped me gain confidence in my future career path, and their knowledge and professional backgrounds have helped me prepare for the “real world.” I can’t thank them enough for the time they gave to help and support my dream of working in Japan.
Maintain your connections, grow your network, and build relationships that will last a lifetime. You’ll be glad you did.
Lilia Hauenstein is currently a senior majoring in Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in International Business at Grand Valley State University. She recently studied abroad in Japan for a year, and since she wants to live and work there, she has been self-studying the language and continuing learning the culture. Determined to make her aspirations happen, you will see her contributing her time to the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy, PRSSA, the Padnos International Center, her university’s development office, and constantly connecting with people in and outside of Grand Valley. Her hope is to make a positive impact on the business world in Japan.