The old cliché goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and… it’s true. You can be the brightest bulb in the box, but if you don’t know anyone with lights, you will not be in demand. Networking is how you go from mediocre to a success.
At the end of the day, people work with people. They promote people, give their business to people, and enjoy interacting with some people more than others. Be the person that people know and that people trust. If you are trusted and recognized, people will want to assist you and provide you with opportunities.
There are many opportunities for networking that we don’t necessarily identify as networking. Anytime you socialize with a group of people that you don’t know well, this can be networking. You never know who knows someone who can help you land your next big job. Put down your phone and talk to people. Because, as I’ve said, people help people. That random guy standing next to you at Starbucks could be the CEO of a fortune 100 company that you are hoping to land a job with. Look around, be friendly, smile, and engage others. Don’t let opportunities pass you over or not realize the value of simple interactions. Show a genuine interest in others and ask questions that get people talking.
If you are in a situation socializing with new people, don’t ask someone “how they’re doing” or “what they do for a living” as this is a waste of a question. You will be boring if your questions are monotonous and have been heard 100 plus times that night. Instead, ask questions that enable people to talk about what they care about. Questions such as: “Do you have any passion projects?” “If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?” “Have you been on any good vacations lately?” These questions enable you to connect with others at a more personal level. Once you get someone talking and you have a connection, it is much easier to open the door for vocational possibilities. Don’t be afraid to be vocal about what career you are trying to obtain. You will not get the assistance you are wanting unless you ask. Go out, engage others and don’t hesitate to ask for help. The answer will always be no unless you ask, and if you ask, there’s at least a chance of getting a yes.
Talk to people, network, sell yourself and make connections with others.