Professional Networking

By Sarita Chandanani

Networking can be an abstract and intimidating term used to
describe something that essentially comes naturally to most of us.
Some may even be puzzled by the term not knowing exactly what it
means to “network” with someone. Below I have mapped out the five
essential tips needed to network effectively in a business
environment that all students have already put into practice
without even knowing it.

#1: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Networking occurs constantly whether we recognize it or not: in
our classes, within our study groups, between co-workers, faculty,
alumni, friends and family. These are people we interact with on a
daily basis and can reference though rarely consider when planning
our next career move. Networking is most effective when we can
relate to others on a personal level because they give us
information that a stranger would not bother to reveal.

“Through networking students are given real information
regarding what their prospective career and industry is all about,”
said Stan Herbert, interim director of the Career Center. “The more
comfortable you are in an environment the better you will perform
in their corporate culture.”

#2: Build your network before you need it.

Even if you’re satisfied in the position you obtain, always
think about improving your list of resources. For instance, having
a job doesn’t necessarily mean you will keep that job for the rest
of your life so anticipating new opportunities will make you
successful. Unemployment doesn’t have to be an option as long as
you are consistently following through with your contacts and
keeping them at your disposal. Remember, in the end someone will
decide your fate within a company; it’s up to you to make a good
impression on them.

#3: Make business personal.

We are regularly reminded to keep our personal lives separate
from our professional lives though in the business spectrum more
decisions are made over lunch and dinner than in any other business
arena. The reason being that prospective employers are trying to
analyze the type of person you are and if you will fit into their
corporate lifestyle.

“Resumes can only say so much; it’s networking that allows a
3-Dimensional view on potential employees and their performance on
a daily basis,” said Herbert.

In certain cases it can go as far as skipping the interview
process altogether because your referral was highly
recommended.

#4: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and prove you
deserve it!

Confidence is a key aspect when networking with someone. You
want to make sure you leave a good impression on the person you are
talking to and have clear and concise objectives so that they
understand what you need.

Communicate what your goals are and the paths you would like to
take. If a job arises you will be the first person they think
about: sometimes it’s not who you know but who knows you. Recent
graduates find it difficult at times to prove themselves as
valuable assets to a company since they usually acquire level-entry
positions. Take full advantage of getting your name out there so
that senior management knows who you are. It’s not a good idea to
be humble and stick to the nine to five; find ways to make yourself
unique and priceless to a company.

#5: First impressions are just the beginning.

First impressions are one of the most important aspects of
networking: it’s when people create an idea about the type of
person you are and will be in the future. Unfortunately, a first
impressions can be detrimental to your career if not followed
through correctly. I vividly remember interviewing for my current
position after arriving an hour late and with a coffee stain all
over my blouse because of a hit a run on the 10 freeway that left
me befuddled.

As sympathetic as my prospective manager seemed to be I knew
that her impression of me was that I was prone to accidents and
tardiness. I tried my best to prove myself by sending a thank you
card after the interview and following up with her within a week
which was something I had never bothered doing before. It proved to
work because she later admitted that if it wasn’t for my
persistence to make a better impression than my first then she
would have thrown my resume in the trash.

Networking can mean a variety of things to each individual but
it boils down to simply communicating with another individual on a
personal level and using what they have to offer as your own
resource. In a technical sense this means keeping groups of people
connected to you just as computers in a network are linked
together; the more you have, the easier information can be
exchanged between each other. That’s why networking is so
important, it allows us to get our message across in a personal
setting that is more comforting, relaxed, and allows us to reveal
the type of people we are in ways that a resume just can’t.

Sarita Chandani can be reached by phone at (909) 869-3531 or by
e-mail at opinions@thepolypost.com.

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