By: Brea Thompson
Networking at any age can be intimidating and even awkward at times. The whole meet and greet routine is not as easy as it was when you were in grammar school. Now you are in the real world, where life is more fast-paced and you have a shorter amount of time to “wow” a person or group with your amazingly gifted talents. Prior to meeting someone, there may be a thousand thoughts running through your mind from the initial greeting to calculating the minutes of small talk you must endure before getting straight to the business. Yet, you have nothing to fear. Networking is an essential component no matter what life stage you are in. With that being said, we at GSL have compiled a list to help millennial women through the art of networking at any age. Check out the list below:
High school is a monumental stage in anyone’s life and it serves as a huge stepping stone into your future. You’re never too young to reach out and make connections. Don’t be afraid to branch out! Even the smallest acts can make the difference in building a network of supportive and well-rounded individuals.
Interact with people outside of your social group
Get out of your comfort zone and hang out with people who may have different interests than you. You may be surprised to learn of new aspects and viewpoints as well as have the opportunity to share some of your own. You only go through high school once, so make the most of your time and socialize.
There is more to high school than just test, parties and sports
Use this time to test out something new such as a part-time job or volunteering. No matter how small or big the activity may be, it can definitely be an influential point for you. You may have the chance to meet students from other schools, find professionals in areas of your interest and expand skills to boost your resume.
This is brief overview of you that is typically under a minute. It is a simple introduction of who you are, what grade and what are your goals. Be sure to be authentic with it! Practice it in front of family or friends first to become comfortable with talking about yourself in a professional setting.
LinkedIn is exactly what it says in the name. It essentially allows you to set up an online resume and connect from that point on! You have the opportunity to see what others in your potential field may be doing as well as put you in contact with them on a formal manner.
Take advantage of the resources that are available for us. Fortunately, we grew up in a time where the Internet has just about anything to offer.
Whether you went to college, working or are taking a break from the structured life altogether, your twenties are essentially a time to figure everything out. No matter what your venture may be, networking is essential at this point of your life. These relationships will be some of the most life changing experiences of your life, so take full advantage of these years.
Invest in Business cards
This is an essential item to keep on you at all times! You never know who you may come in contact with and would want to exchange information with you. You can create your own cards and print them off at an office supply store or have someone else design them. Be sure that these cards represent you and include vital details such as name, e-mail, phone number or website.
The power of social media is endless, especially with the advancement of today’s technology. Join networking groups that can serve as a support group for advice and insight on new topics. You’ll be amazed at the connections you make and the opportunities that may arise.
Build a strong digital presence on platforms and showcase all your hard work. Do your research on the best site to host whatever field in. Take the time to develop what materials you want to share and if you want to take it a step further to include a business or blog. Promote yourself and ask for feedback on how to make the site more appealing. There is an immense amount of people out there, so preview their site and get ready to connect!
Find a mentor
Having a mentor in the field similar to yours is always a great start to knowledge and other individuals. This is your go-to person to ask about whatever you are pursuing. Don’t be afraid to have multiple mentors in different areas to help you expand your brand. Remember to give as much as you ask for from your mentor. Consistently be a student and create a well-balanced relationship!
This is a necessity after the initial meeting between individuals and should be sent immediately after the exchange. It is convenient and easy to simply type e-mails and hit send, but chances are this will be buried in the recipient’s e-mail for some time. However, if you have the time to sit and write a note to be mailed, then you will definitely create a lasting impression. In the note, be sure to thank the person for their time and add in a detail from the conversation that you found helpful or interesting.
My mentors have been tremendous support, and I was lucky enough to find my “calling” early in life…In terms of mentors, I have several. Two of them that have been with me the longest are Raqiyah Mays and Erika Kendrick.
Although you may be at a point in your career where you feel well established, networking does not stop! Now more than ever, you are at the peak of your adulthood and have gone through a vast amount of trial and error. Times are changing and you have to stay updated with your age group as well as the younger generation. This is your time to revamp and establish an ever-growing network.
Keep in touch
Keep in touch with your connects, not only when you need something, but also out of simple generosity. When people know that you are genuine about their well-being or projects, they will be more accepting to continue a relationship. Social media can play a huge factor of staying in touch, but if possible take the conversation offline to interact with individuals in person.
Update your circle
Truth is life happens and people change. The same person that you went to for all of your newsbreaks may not practice in that field anymore. Whatever the reason may be, it is time for you to reach out to your relevant market and peers to revamp your circle. It is best to have a classic and trendy viewpoint on the current trends that are taking place.
Serve as a link
You have created a mutual relationship with someone who offers a great service. It is great to continue to develop a balanced interaction, but also take the time to highlight their hard work. If you know of someone looking for a resource that the other provides, then take the initiative to introduce the two people. You will be surprised at the projects that may stem from you making a referral and how many people will return the favor. More importantly, use this time to pave the way forward and take on someone to mentor.
It was very rewarding to have people I looked up to and respected acknowledge the impact we were making at the time.
Are you looking for more resources or even other women to help you on this networking journey? If so, there is a great site that is geared to helping with this exact cause. We hope that these tips steer you in the right direction to go out and make new connections! Good luck networking!
Note from GSL Contributor:
Hey everyone! From time to time, you will see my name pop up on the site, so why not introduce myself, right? I am Brea Thompson, a senior majoring in Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and I am a lover of organization and lists! So I decided that that is how I would share the bits of who I am with you all. In a nutshell I am: an avid thrift shopper, DIY enthusiast, natural hair product junkie, food critic, a traveler and chronic laugher!
In addition, I have always had a strong passion for reading, writing and helping others, so why not combine the three to deliver some awesome content to you all!