I often hear people talk about the importance of networking and building your tribe, but no one really talks about how to actually do it. And because there’s no real guidebook on the proper ways to network and build meaningful relationships, the majority of us do it wrong. Now you might read this and say how can one “network” wrong, it’s just talking to people- but I’ll challenge that by saying networking is way more than just talking to people. In fact, if done correctly, networking properly can open up tons of opportunities for you.
Now before you go out and register for tons of networking events, you need to first ask yourself the million dollar question: “What Room Should I Be In?" I can’t tell you how many times students have told me how they didn’t make any connections at an event, only to find out that the event might not have been the best for them to attend. I know networking events can seem appealing (open bar/rooftops) and fun, but you want to make sure you’re going with purpose and you’re in the right room.
Here are three questions to ask yourself to know if you’re in the right room to network:
Does this event fit my current or future career goals?
The first questions to ask yourself are what are your career goals? Defining what your career goals are first, makes it much easier to plan out the events in which you should attend. Are you an entry-level professional working to become a manager or executive in your industry? Events hosted by managers and executives will likely be the room you would want to be in.
Does this event fit with my major, minor, or industry?
No matter where you’re currently in your career, any networking event or activity you attend should fit within where you want to go as a professional. For example, if you’re in the medical industry you likely wouldn’t attend a networking event for mechanics because it doesn’t quite fit within your career industry. Think of networking as an opportunity to connect with individuals in your industry or field of interest.
Is the organization hosting the event credible?
No networking event or organization is equal, so you need to ensure the organization hosting the event is credible. Now when I say credible I don’t mean the organization has to be National or have the most Instagram followers, but it does have to be quality. Make sure you’ve done your proper research on the organization before attending to make sure you’re not wasting your time. Things to search (website, social media, the event host, etc.)
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