By Rachel Bradle
In the professional world, networking is a vital part of starting a career. The past few days, our group has learned this lesson from various Drake alumni, who have graciously offered us career advice. Networking allows people to meet vital contacts, which will eventually help when needing career advice, moving to a new city, or applying for jobs.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind, while making professional connections.
- People love to talk about their careers. Do not be shy about asking a person what his or her job is and how he or she advanced their careers. More than likely, they will more than happy to tell you their story and offer advice.
- In Washington D.C. and the professional world at large, people often get together to discuss their career paths. If you meet someone with a career you are interested in, ask them to sit down with you and tell you about his/her job. The worst he/she can say is “no.”
- Carry business cards with you. If you meet someone who you would like to talk to further, a business card is a quick and effective way of giving him/her your information. A business card also shows a potential contact that you are professional, serious, and put together. Business cards can also be made at home. Personally, I bought business paper at Walmart and created my business cards with a template on my computer.
- Make sure to keep in touch with each professional contact, even if that just means sending a Christmas card or making a quick phone call. By doing so, you will ultimately build a relationship with these people, and they will be more likely to remember you for future references. Even if you transfer jobs, keep in touch with your old boss(es). You may end up needing a good reference or even your old job back.
- Remember little details about your co-workers and bosses. Recalling things you have in common with them or stories and details they have told you will make keeping in touch a lot easier. It will also show your contacts that they are important to you and you value the time you spent with them. Showing appreciation ultimately builds better relationships.
Overall, do not feel afraid to network and build relationships. Every successful person will tell you networking was a big part of their achievements!