Did your guardians tell you not to talk to strangers? Now that you’re in college the buzzword is networking- talk to strangers, make new friends, and connect. Talking to strangers can make your hands sweat, voice crack, and heart race. How do I network and find out about opportunities that can inform and support my future goals without becoming nervous? Being prepared can help. The most underused job search tool is the informational interview—this allows you to seek leads and information regarding an industry or a career path. To do this well, do your homework:
1- Figure out what information you want.
2- Brainstorm people you know—that means everyone from your best friend’s cousin to your hairdresser.
3- Schedule an appointment with someone who seems interesting. It is generally no longer than 30 minutes. Just remember, people are busy.
4- Ask the right questions—here are some sample questions
5- Play the part—dress professionally and know as much as you can about the person you are talking to.
6- Get ready to talk about yourself- draft an elevator speech about yourself and where you hope to go. Bring a resume but only give it if requested.
7- The last question you ask should be, “Do you have any suggestions of other people I could talk?”
8- Be gracious for their time and SEND A THANK YOU NOTE. Stay in touch with your contacts and let them know how they have been helpful in the future.
9- Follow up on any referrals given and do it again and again and again. That job offer could be around the corner.
These tips can help you make strangers into a valuable contact!