I had the privilege of first learning how to network in a city like Washington, DC. I interned there for a little less than a year and I feel like I was able to takeaway so much, it really changed my life (I say this often) which is why I always advocate for people to intern and intern often. One of the best things being an intern taught me is how to NETWORK with people in high places. It gave me the confidence I needed to ask hard questions in order to get what I needed out of already meaningful conversations.
The top 3 questions I get are, "How did you meet this/that person?, "How did you go about getting that job? and the most famous one is "How did you learn how to code (which I'll address in the articles to come)."
To answer the first 2 questions, my jobs with 3M and Target I got through networking at events in the community. If you know me then you know I wasn't even looking for a job when I was approached about Target but I met some very powerful people whom I had met at those community events I am always talking about.
I genuinely believe that when you're being PURPOSEFUL in your pursuit to find certain people/ events then everything will align in your favor but for those who are still struggling with the networking part of things, here are some of my golden rules:
My 5 key approaches to networking:
SHOW UP- The single most important thing you can do for yourself is just simple show up for YOU and those around you. When you see events pop up that adhere to your interests GO!!! I know, we all are "tired" after work but an extra hour can literally change your life. You never know who you're going top meet, what message you will take a way, and who is there actually looking to see who all showed up in the room. I use to have a old boss who would simply just pop into some after work events just to see who showed up---that matters, be there and please be present. Don't be the person that shows up and scrolls their phone the entire event.
It's Not About You- YUP, you heard me right. When you first meet someone, if you make it all about you....it will scare them away and they will probably never talk to you again or be hesitant to share their network with you. Make sure you make it about them, and what you can offer THEM, and how it can be a transactional relationship. People LOVE to talk about themselves...especially professionals so make sure you add in some admiration to let them know you've done your research.
Which brings me to my next point...
DO YOUR RESEARCH ON FOLKS- Please do not break your neck to meet someone if you don't know who they are outside of their short bio that was posted on a flyer. Take your time and do some research...it lets people know you did your homework and that looks GOOD, they will fill flattered and more inclined to actually hold a meaningful conversation with you. Whenever someone knows little things about me, I always get so excited....the little things matter.
Be Genuine- My best relationships were formed from being GENUINE. I had happy hour with one of Target's VP's and we literally just chilled, and cocktails, and shared buffalo wings for 3 hours!! This relationship stemmed from me volunteering and showing my interest in one of the programs she was the head of which was Diversity and Inclusion In Technology (where my passion is). Our conversation flowed from there and I meet with her now every 2-3 weeks, we just had our "outside of work" happy hour and it was amazing. Be genuine, talk to people who actually are working on things that interest you, not people you just want something out of.
And that brings me another point...
Your "FRIENDS" Are Your Biggest Network- My inner circle are the main ones that PUT ME ON and I do the same for them when the opportunity presents itself. I'm always bringing them in on meaningful conversations. I even skyped in a friend during one of my presentations because I knew he would be an essential part to the conversation. Don't always feel like your "network" has to be the rich and famous...who you are and who you will be starts right within your circle of people.
Okay ya'll, that's it for now. I hope you all have an amazing week! Until next time. -B