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How to Navigate the Networking Waters

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Fatih and Carrie investing in their careers through networking
Networking. The word alone can bring an uneasy feeling, especially for introverts. Yet, it's a key component of investing in your career. Key traits of a leader include the ability to develop business connections and engage peers with excellent interpersonal skills. And those connections could be the "in" for your next career move. In this blog article, we'll discuss the importance of networking, how to be successful at a networking event, and the resources available at Purdue University that can help you grow your connections.

 

The Importance of Networking

Before we dive into the "how", it's valuable to know the "why." In short, networking opens doors and provides opportunities. In fact, according to a 2017 LinkedIn survey, 70 percent of respondents that were given a new position in 2016 said they were hired at a company where they had established a connection.

If you know networking is important but still avoid it, you're not alone. In the same survey, 79 percent agreed that professional networking is valuable for career advancement, but only 48 percent said they keep in touch with their network when things are going well in their career.

Some are held back by past experiences or stumped on where to begin. Here are some tips on how to successfully network.

 

Networking Tips

Before attending a networking event:

  • Do some research and find out if there is anyone going to the event that you would like to connect with. Visit their social profiles and view their recent work so you are prepped for conversation.
  • Make sure your business cards are up to date.
  • Think about what you want to wear. A bright tie or colorful dress can be a way to stand out.
  • Determine a goal for the event. Are you wanting to meet new people, find a mentor, or search for a way to enter a new industry? Set a goal and come up with a plan.
  • Have an icebreaker prepared. One that always works is "what brings you to this event?"
  • Come prepared with a summary of what you do and specific goals you're seeking. Think "I'm looking to gain experience in boutique hotel management" versus "I want a hospitality position."

At the Event:

  • Show up early. This tip is especially helpful for introverts. When you arrive early you won't be overwhelmed walking into a crowded room and can, instead, start conversations with 2–3 people.
  • Be genuine and have authentic conversations. The best connections will stem from you being yourself and removing pretenses like a sale pitch. Treat these new connections as a potential new friend. Have an engaging conversation by asking questions and listening. Give a business card when asked, or better yet, ask for their information and you will have the power to follow up.
  • When you do get a business card, make sure you jot down a few notes on the card after the conversation or event to jog your memory later about the individual.
  • When all else fails, grab a spot by the bar. It's the perfect spot for finding someone who may be overwhelmed or looking for someone to talk to.

After the Event:

  • Connect socially. LinkedIn is a great platform to build professional connections.
  • Send an email with something of value. If one of your connections mentioned that they were looking to start a hobby in gardening, send them an article on the subject. If they respond, set up a time to grab coffee.
  • Just like any other relationship, professional relationships require consistent follow-up and interactions to grow. Make a running list of contacts you want to keep in touch with, and once a month send an email to someone on the list. That way, you'll be top of mind if anything opens up that they could use your help on.

 

Purdue Resources for Networking

A significant benefit for Krannert’s students and alumni is Purdue University’s vast network and career resources. Students can take advantage of career fairs and career services, while alumni have the opportunity to connect with both Purdue and Krannert alumninetworks.

Purdue alumni networks span the globe setting the stage for travel opportunities, assistance in finding Krannert alumni after relocation, alumni events, and social groups and pages to stay updated. It has never been easier to get connected to a fellow Boilermaker.

Start investing in your career and get to networking! With the right skills and connections, your career will grow. To gain leadership traits, consider an MBA that focuses on equipping students with the skillset, like the Krannert MBA.