By Daisy Yiu
Networking is not just about handing business cards to the every person in a suit and hoping someone calls you back.
So, the Eyopener asked experts to reveal the dos and don’ts behind buidling your solid network.
A Cardboard card won’t do it.
“Pressing business cards into everyone’s hands doesn’t make a high quality connection, it might actually end up backfiring on you,” said Wayne Baker, author of Networking Smart: How to Build Relationships for Personal & Organizational Success.
The experts agree on one simple fact. Nowadays, it’s important to start building networks early. With a solid network, students can be a step ahead and have a foot in the door before even switching their graduation cap’s tassle to the right.
Though there are a number of ways to jump-start your networking debut. Pamela Walker Laird, author of Pull: Networking and Success Since Benjamin Franklin said internships, academic and professional conventions, volunteering and joining clubs are some of the simplest.
Scratching your name to a club list and meeting some new people won’t do it all. You’ve got to want to be there, not just want to network.
“If you join an organization for community work, be there to do the community work,” Laird said. “If networking falls in naturally, that’s great, but don’t abuse it or you’ll lose big time.”
Aino Lokk, employment counsellor at the Ryerson Career Centre agrees. Networking can’t be all about you.
“It’s a two-way street,” Lokk said. Adding when you approach a professional at a convention, showing a genuine interest in what the professional has to say and what they may need will get you further.
Buy into them and sell yourself
“If you can show what you can contribute to … that’s the only way you can have the privilege of getting something in return,” Baker said.
“After you’ve presented your own unique qualities, show that you know the company’s also,” Lokk said. “This shows that you’re somewhat informed… that you invested some time, effort and energy.”
The new kind of networking
Online networking websites have become popular in recent years. Business networking sites like LinkedIn have more than 15 million users from 150 industries. LinkedIn is a lot like Facebook but strictly for business networking purposes.
But remember, even online, you need to be as professional as possible. “It’s more anonymous, so you drop your guard and don’t watch what you say or how you say it,” Lokk said.
“You have to try to be a more social person,” said Natasha Malysheva, a Media Production graduate student.
“It doesn’t mean you have to give away your last shirt, but be more curious about the world around you.”
As Vishal Vasdev, a second-year ITM student put it, “Trying to find a job without a network is like learning how to be social without any friends.”