Growing Your Network in 2014
A Guest Post by Drew Slater
Nowadays, having a stacked resume and good credentials isn’t enough. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “it’s all about who you know,” and thought it was just a saying; however, it is much more than that – it’s the truth. Why you ask? While you might have the best resume and be the best candidate for the job, there are dozens and sometimes hundreds of applications vying for the same job. You will need someone helping your application stand out and get noticed.
Something I always thought was “bull” when my professors said it in class was, “Be nice to everyone because you don’t know who is going to become who.” Luckily, I am a nice guy by nature and I don’t burn bridges because as I’ve grown professionally, it’s pretty amazing to see who ends up where. Classmates get jobs at cool companies, people you interned with switch jobs and you’ll realize your network can organically grow very quickly. However, you can’t expect for people you know and your network to just keep growing on its own.
You need to get out there and mingle. And, nowadays “out there” doesn’t even mean you have to get off your couch. Social media allows you to meet people in Chicago, San Francisco or even London with a simple Tweet or message. Take part of Twitter chats and start chatting away or simply watch/listen to people and start following them.
While networking events can quickly bring back the anxiety you had at your middle school dance, you need to remember one thing – everyone is there for the same reason. To meet people! Is randomly walking up to someone and saying “hi” out of nowhere awkward? Sure is, but this is the one place it is expected. Just remember to look sharp, look confident and have your elevator speech known by heart. The rest will take care of itself. At networking events, you’re trying to meet new people and create contacts, so you don’t need to have the most amazing conversation in the history of the world. It can help to go with someone you know, but I will warn you not to go with a pack of people you already know because without realizing it, you’ll only talk to those people and the event will be over before you know it.
It’s also very important to remember you are valuable to other people as well. You bring a lot to the table and you have the ability to help people. You will have colleagues reaching out to you eventually asking for your help. Personally, this is my favorite part of networking. I find it very gratifying when I introduce two people professionally and they end up being able to help each other out. It’s a win, win, win situation.
Get out there and meet people, whether in person or via social media because unfortunately people rarely get where they want to go all by themselves. It takes a network.
“The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozer’s are good listeners, not good talkers.” – Guy Kawasaki
Drew Slater is a Miami native who graduated from the University of South Florida and is currently an account executive in the marketing departments for a Fortune 500 company. He has a strong passion for education, whether it is learning or teaching, and sees education as the key to success. In his spare time you can find Drew marathon training, soaking in the sun at the beach or cheering his hometown Heat or Dolphins on TV.
You can follow Drew on Twitter @drewhslater