Going up to someone and having a conversation isn’t the easiest thing to do for folks. Especially if you don’t know them and especially if you’re somewhere you’re not totally comfortable. But, the good news is this: not every “networking” event has to be a cold, stiff, awkward encounter. Really, every friendly conversation you have can be considered a networking one. Here are three tips for making the most out of your networking conversations to help advance your career.
Leverage your classroom connections
When you’re training for a credential at your local community college, your instructor is going to be plugged into your community and local industry. Chances are, they’ve been in the community for awhile and may be actively working in the field. Get to know your instructor, talk to them about the field, ask them for support in your training and build that relationship. When they get to know you as a person, they know your strengths and weaknesses beyond the subject of your training, and they’ll be able to help guide you to a job with a local employer that’s best suited for you.
Make space to network
Now, this requires you to go out on a limb…but it’s a safe limb! Before you leave your training program, ask your instructor for 3-5 names of people you can talk to. Then, send an email to those individuals to see if they’d be open for a causal conversation or an informational interview. This way, you have a warm connection to this person since you have a shared connection, all ofwhich will make the conversation a little easier. You could also go to local employer websites and send the HR contacts an email. Let them know you just earned your industry credential and you’re interested in learning about their company and positions that may be open now or in the future.
Find time to talk to supervisors outside of performance reviews and check-ins
Lastly, make sure you’re networking WITHIN your network. Your supervisors, peers and other co-workers could be great resources and connections to help you advance in your career. A simple conversation in the break room could give you new information, or the opportunity to give new information, that may lead you to a training or a career advancement opportunity.
If you’re looking to get started in a training program at your local community college, visit our Contact Us page to get connected to a local career coach.