How can you help your student learn to network effectively? Summer is actually a great time to network as business often moves at a slower pace in the summer months and everyone welcomes a chance to get out of the office. Plus, professionals love to help college students who are “home from school”. So, we have 5 things you can do to help your student make the most of the summer by exploring careers and building their professional network.
One: Discuss the power of relationships in your career. Take time to talk about career exploration and networking. Start by telling them the various ways relationships have helped you in your career. Students are told to network but rarely told why. Show them the power of relationships and how networking will impact them personally and professionally.
Two: Admit that it is hard. Emailing a perfect stranger is hard enough not to mention sitting across the table from them. However, students underestimate the length professionals will go to for a young adult who is just starting out. To build their confidence, help them develop their message. Help them craft their story (their elevator pitch) in a compelling way that will not only inform but also engage the contact. Also, share your failures and embarrassing moments. Explain the many reasons they may not hear back from someone so they don’t take it personally.
Three: Help them identify their network. The true power of networking comes from a mutual connection so help them look for these connections within their area of interest. These commonalities will be the initial connecting point and the foundation for the relationship. These can be as simple as fellow college alums, someone that played the same sport they play, someone who interned at the same company, a friend’s parent, or professionals from your network. It will surprise them just how many people they know when they really sit down and think about it.
Four: Walk them through the basics. Students should have a plan for how they will connect in a meaningful way with a new contact, how to craft an introductory email, what questions they are going to ask, the importance of a prompt reply, what to do if the contact doesn’t return their message, and how to maintain that relationship moving forward. Their communication style, message, presentation, how they tell their story, and how they demonstrate gratitude are vital to their success. Have them share their draft communications…you may be surprised! Some of our most intelligent, social students still need a lot of help crafting an appropriate email. If you don’t feel qualified to proof their work then ask a close friend to help.
Five: Motivate your student and make networking a priority by setting a networking goal such as having coffee with five new contacts over the summer. Brainstorm a reward, an extra privilege, or even make a wager over whether they’ll reach their goal. Having a goal and a reward can make networking fun and help your student stay focused.
Here’s a little secret, most professionals LOVE to help young adults who are just starting out in their careers. Don’t underestimate the lengths professionals will go to in order to help a young adult in their professional development. However, the power of networking doesn’t come from making a call, sending an email or making a LinkedIn request. It is really about investing in professional relationships! So here are our 6 tips on how to build professional relationships this summer.
One: Don’t underestimate your network. The true power of networking comes from a mutual connection or a shared experience that bonds you to another person. These commonalities will be the initial connecting point and the foundation for the relationship. These can be as simple as fellow college alums, someone that played the same sport you play, someone who interned at the same company, or a friend’s parent. You may be surprised just how many people you know.
Two: Demonstrate your communication skills and gratitude. Every interaction with a potential contact demonstrates your written and verbal communication skills. Make sure you are concise, choose professional verbiage, don’t use emojis, and sign the end every email with your contact information. Don’t text unless they text you first. All your communications should communicate your gratitude. Recognize the fact that these people are taking time out of their busy workday to meet with you so thank them for their assistance.
Three: Practice your elevator pitch. Who are you, what makes you unique and why should they care? Emailing a perfect stranger is hard, not to mention sitting across the table from them. However you will feel more confident if you have refined your message. Craft your story, your elevator pitch, in a compelling way that will not only inform but also engage the contact.
Four: Prepare! Nothing will sabotage a relationship faster than knowing nothing about the person you are meeting with. Research the person and their company, then integrate this research into the questions you ask. For example: “I saw that you started your career at McKinsey, what are the pro’s and con’s of starting your career at a consulting firm”. Take time to think about what questions you want to ask and make sure it isn’t something you can readily find online. Also prepare for the inevitable questions they will ask you. Make sure you are able to clearly state your strengths, what you are looking for, and why you are interested in a particular field.
Five: Make it easy for them. This begins with your initial email where you should include your resume and clearly state what you are looking for (i.e. advice, insight). Make yourself available and accommodate their schedule whenever possible. Ask them to choose a meeting location that is convenient for them. Always reply promptly to their emails or voice mails. Finally, don’t reschedule!
Six: Follow-up! What you do after the meeting is almost as important as what you do during the meeting. Send a thank you email within 24 hours. Reference specific advice or insight that the person gave you during your conversation and show your gratitude. Then, stay in touch with the occasional email. This can mean sharing an article you think they will find interesting, sending an update as you head back to school, or asking for follow up advice. Recognize that these people are now invested in your future success so foster their interest by staying in touch.
Calling all December Grads, if you read Part I of this article you have spent the last month with RR&R (Redo, Read & Research). You have Redone your resume and LinkedIn Profile. You have Read and Researched to learn all you can about your 10 Target Companies. You have held at least 5 Informational Interviews. Well done!
By mid-January employees are back from holiday vacations and companies are looking to the year ahead. This includes evaluating gaps on their current team or who they will need on their team to achieve their 2017 goals. With all of your RR&R you are well prepared to seize this moment!
Schedule time each day to work on your job search. I recommend at least 1 hour, preferably 2…some experts say up to 8. Whatever your schedule allows make sure you set aside time each day to apply for jobs, reach out to contacts, schedule informational interviews and update your network.
Continue to reach out to, and meet with, your “prospect list”. Meeting informationally with industry contacts can bring endless benefits including insights into the industry/company, introduction, validation or even a referral for your dream job. Make sure you let your contacts know your job goals, who they recommend you talk to, and how you should go about applying to work at their company.
Check out all job boards, postings, and LinkedIn creating a daily routine to work your way through your regular sites. Your Target Companies will post positions on their social media sites so make sure you are following them as well.
Manage your referrals, once a contact has referred you to someone in their network your behavior now reflects on them and they are invested in your search. Update them once you reach out to and/or meet with the person they referred you to. A simple thank you and update goes a long way to strengthening and preserving your relationships.
Keep your network updated! Post a fun but professional update on your social media sites. It not only keeps contacts updated on what you are doing but also reminds them that you are available. Email occasional updates to anyone you have met with. This can be as simple as sending them an article that made you think of them or a note wishing them a great start to their week.
When you apply to a position follow it up with an email to anyone you know/have met with at that company. Let them know how excited you are about the position, briefly why you would be great, and ask them to help you network to the hiring manager or recruiter. Make sure you reference the exact title and include the job number if there is one. Also attach a copy of your resume so they can quickly and easily forward it to others at that company.
We hope that helps! Good Luck!