We get it, summertime is your chance to relax and enjoy your break before school starts again, but why not spend some of that time to establish a name for yourself? This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on what you have accomplished during the year and highlight that to others. Here are some tips on how to make networking the summertime adventure you were hoping for.
1. Do your homework
Yes, there is homework to do outside of school! It is no secret that the more you know about someone, the greater the chances are of finding something that connects you both. Building a strong connection begins with developing the foundation of what you both bring to the table. Look into their past to gain a better understanding of what initiatives they have participated in. This can be as easy as checking out their LinkedIn or visiting a company website. Prepare a mental check-list of who you would like to meet or something you would like to learn more about. With everything online, it is so easy to gain access to information about others interests, hobbies, experiences, and more. This allows you to be more efficient with your time and express the value this connection will bring to both of your futures.
2. Focus on quality over quantity
It is something we have heard all our lives, but what does this have to do with meeting new people? Well, it’s simple - be selective with your time. It will be more beneficial for you to have stronger conversations with a smaller web of people than to have a greater web of people who participate in meaningless conversations. Building a strong connection with someone will take time, so make the most of each meeting by adding value to the conversation. No one wants to hear someone share useless information over a screen when they could be enjoying the sunshine outside. Try not to waste either of your time. Focusing on the quality of connections rather than quantity will grow your chances of a second meeting and entice them to know more about you.
3. Follow-up after
So you’ve made these connections online with all of these important people - amazing! Are you keeping in touch and sharing interesting updates in your life? Probably not. The fastest way to lose their interest is by never following up or staying relevant. When connections are not maintained you can give off the impression that you were collecting numbers only when it was convenient for you, especially during the summer when anything work-related is forgotten about. A simple solution is keeping your name in their mind, whether it be by inviting them to a virtual event you are hosting or sharing what you have learned from attending a TRSM event. Just as a summer memory can last a lifetime, so can your connections, so don't forget to check up on them!
4. Be engaging
Establishing relevant connections requires more than a simple “hi, how are you?”. Before meeting someone new, perfect your elevator pitch so you are ready to approach anyone in any situation. This can be a description of an idea, concept, or hope you have that the listener can understand in a short amount of time. Enthusiastically introduce yourself, highlighting your ideas that will be sure to impress them and make them want to hear more. If you are connecting through video, be sure to maintain eye contact and practice proper body language to communicate your interest in the conversation. When communicating online, remember to follow, like, and share anything relevant to your network. Your connections will be pleased to know you are staying updated with what they are sharing and definitely return the favour!
5. Avoid requests at first
How would you feel if a stranger contacted you and started asking for tons of favours? You definitely wouldn’t feel respected, so you shouldn't act that way to someone else. No one ever wants to feel like they are being used for your hidden agenda. The first few times connecting with someone new should not feel inviting and easy instead of forced. Yes, an advantage of making connections is building relationships to help guide you in the right direction, but it is crucial that a relationship is built before asking them for any favours. Be genuine and honest with those you meet and they will see your potential for themselves. Use the summer to your advantage and allow the connection to grow at its own pace so when the time comes, your network will support you with insight to succeed.
6. Don’t focus on their title
Made of a few simple words, a title will tell you everything you need to know about this possible new connection...or will it? Just because someone has a title that does not relate to your interests, does not mean you should eliminate them as a connection. It is more than likely they will have connections of their own that can be useful when expanding your own network in the future. This is the type of information you will gain once you have formed a relationship with them. Maybe one thing you both have in common is your love of summer! It is crucial that diversification is one of your motives when building new connections. Connecting with different perspectives from different industries will allow you to grow as an individual and offer the knowledge that others value.
Remember that networking during off season can be as (or even more) helpful when it comes to making connections. Use these tips to ensure you're making the most of your summer!