As you know, networking is a key part of your job search and career development. However, networking has changed over time and the way you manage your network is extremely influential in your success. Here are some quick tips on how to make the most of your network now and moving forward:
- Strong Ties vs. Weak Ties: Your strong ties are your family, friends and close colleagues who you can always go to for connections. They can be helpful; however, your weak ties are more likely to be your link to future companies, positions, and/or projects. Weak ties are acquaintances you have met through past internships, jobs, classes, or other experiences.
- Know Your Network: Keep track of your connections, especially your weak ties (see #1). Try to organize their contact info and position information through a list in your phone, via a google doc, or in a planner, making sure to update the list as you interact with more people. This list is meant to help you determine which connections/acquaintances you see as being influential in your future career goals/endeavors.
- Contact Your Network: Try to reach out to your weak ties (that are organized in a document see #2) at least 2-3 times per year. This outreach would not be that you are looking for a job, but more ‘I wanted to reach out and congratulate you on your recent promotion’ or ‘I just wrapped up this film project and wanted to let you know your advice about strong communication was extremely helpful in my success on set’. These touch points will help you keep your connections and also allow you an easy access point if you ever do need to contact them about a position, project and/or for advice.
- Build Your Network: Gone are the days of handing out business cards at networking events. While these networking events still occur and strategically approached can be helpful, I would encourage you to spend more of your time doing things like: volunteering at industry-oriented events (Boston Book Festival or Boston Independent Film Festival as examples) and reaching out to old acquaintances you have lost touch with (so you can add them to your weak ties list).
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend by David Burkus titled Networking for Actual Humans Beings. It is a quick read and discusses how most people feel networking is insincere and uncomfortable. Taking some the above tips and thinking about networking as a way to interact and learn from connections, as actual human beings rather than as awkward conversations at networking events, is a great approach as you enter the real world!
Best of luck and congratulations on your upcoming graduation!