A Recent Graduate’s Guide to Networking

Jun 15, 2020 by

There comes a time when every student must take their education out of the classroom, away from the textbooks and toward a vision of the future. Adapting your skills, learning, and natural talents for the job market seems daunting. It is daunting. But it’s much harder if you try to go it alone.

That’s why networking is so important. Through networking, entrants into the job market can make valuable connections, gain useful insights into their industry, meet decision-makers, and hone their craft. But it’s not as easy as simply joining a Facebook group.

In this article, let’s use a single career – sales – as an example, and explore the best ways to find, make, and maintain a valuable professional network.

Know Where to Look

Continuing with sales as the example, let’s say you wanted to kickstart a sales career but didn’t know where to look. This is where a network comes in handy.

There are often plenty of in-person events you can attend. Speaking engagements are a great place to network, as are roundtable events. You can also find events specifically geared toward networking on your local Meetup.

For a digital approach to networking, you can also find your tribe online – the link provided lists several online sales communities focused on training, networking, and advocacy. Some of the groups listed are invite-only, but many are open to anyone. Here, you can find likeminded people from around the world – not just your neck of the woods – who can offer tips and guidance for sparking your sales career.

Make Friends, Not Contacts

The point of networking isn’t to see how many business cards you can stack up or how many contacts you can list in your phone. The point of networking is to make meaningful professional connections with people.

To that end, don’t enter a networking opportunity with the express goal of personal gain. Perhaps counter-intuitively, it’s a less effective way of getting what you want. Make genuine friends. If, at some point, one of those genuine friends comes to you with an interview opportunity – fantastic!

You will start your sales career looking for a job as a sales development representative. The more friends you have in the industry, the more good advice and guidance you’ll get when you eventually get that interview.

Ask Not What Your Network Can Do for You…

There will come a time when you’re no longer the benchwarmer. There will come a time when the value you add to the industry can and should be shared with others. Following the point above, networking shouldn’t be parasitical. You shouldn’t view it as a buffet of free value, where you needn’t offer any in return.

Help others in sales as you build out your network. Share your experience with colleagues so that they can improve. And contribute to industry discussions. In other words, as any good salesperson should be: Be a team player!

Find your tribe online, make meaningful professional connections, and contribute value to your network. If you’re just entering the job market, that’s one of the ways you can set yourself up for success.

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