September is a time for going back to school and back to basics. When it comes to networking, there are two basic rules every young professional needs to know:
1. DON’T wait until you need a network to make connections with people. Networking is not something to do when you need a new job or promotion or investor. It’s not something you can buy, beg, borrow, or steal when you need it. It must be part of your regular activities as an ambitious, success-oriented young person. You can’t build strong relationships overnight.
2. DO make sure all networking relationships are mutually beneficial. While you may feel you have nothing to offer older, more experienced contacts, you never know what you might be able to do for them. Simply ask any networking contact, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” and you may be able to lend a hand, from touring that person’s daughter around your campus to suggesting some music downloads for your contact’s iPod. And in a few years when you’re flying high in your career, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll become the person people are calling for connections. The best way to combat a discomfort asking people for help is by knowing that you’re always willing to return the favor.
Good luck with your September networking!
Networking Expert, Campus Calm