The hardest thing about networking is knowing where to start. After having lunch and talking about my interests with my dad, he gave me an opportunity to network with a friend of his from a nonprofit that works with people with developmental disabilities. (Tip: If you haven’t already, ask your parents and family friends for possible people to network with) But this isn’t an interview, and don’t assume whomever you’re talking with will spread your good name. Here are some things to do to help build a networking relationship:
- Initial meeting
- My connection was a male, 60s and had a sunburn on his face. I don’t have much in common with older males but somehow we got talking about where he got the sunburn and that lead to a pleasant conversation!
- Talk about your passions
- If they don’t ask, tell them about your passions or many passions. He works with people with developmental disabilities, so you might assume he only knows those nonprofits. It turns out, he knew people in environmental and animal nonprofit organizations.
- Send a thank you note
- Send one either email or hand-written. They took time to help you, so the least they should get is a nice thank you note and maybe highlight part of your conversation so he or she knows you were listening. (We talked about lions.)
- Follow-up with them in the future. One good way, which I will be using, is to reference something you talked about. Don’t force it, but if you catch yourself thinking about your meeting, send them a thoughtful message.
- Use the resources they give you
- If they give you contacts, find a good time to follow-up and talk to them. Ask for an informational interview and see if it’s a fit for you. Also if they give you a name, just casually drop your connection recommend it for you.
On a separate note, I can’t believe how fast this term has gone by! Good luck with the rest of the term.