We’ve all seen that guy, “the schmoozer”, that seems to be able to go up and talk to anyone in the room about anything. We all stand back and wonder how he knows so many people and whether his type of networking is really all that important.
I’m here to tell you, it’s pretty important. While it’s important to be genuine and not just talk to every recruiter in the room for the heck of it, it’s also very important to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there in a room full of potential employers.
One thing I’ve picked up since starting my MBA, is how serious Fisher is about networking. We’ve already had several events to teach us how to improve our networking skills, and numerous other events that have given us the opportunity to use what we just learned in front of potential employers.
I recently spoke with someone at a tailgate outside of the ‘Shoe who worked as a successful consultant at Deloitte for a number of years, he told me,
“I’m not very smart, I just know a TON of people. It’s all about who you know.”
We’ve all heard this idea countless times, and I think the meaning gets lost on all of us at some point. But this idea continues to emphasize the importance of networking, he got to where he is today because of who he knows, not what he knows.
WHAT YOU CAN DO...
I know it’s tough to be on top of your game all of the time, but if you prepare you can make it much easier to step out of your comfort zone. Here are a few points I picked up a couple weeks ago at The Conference and Networking Workshop:
- Work on a 15-30 second pitch that includes you background and major selling points.
- Research different companies you want to talk to at the event and develop informed questions.
- Warm up with a few other companies before you talk to your #1.
- Exude confidence and act like you deserve to be there.
- In the end, don’t forget to exchange business cards and make a call to action. Ask if they’re interviewing on campus or what the next steps are in the interview process.
If you get a chance before you come to Fisher, make a list of friends you know at companies you might want to work for. Talk to them about their day-to-day, how they like working at their company, etc. If you need to, perform informational interviews within companies you might be interested in. The more you get done before you start classes the better, because spare time is hard to find. Getting started on this will help you shape your career goals and the companies you want to work for, it might also help you identify key people to talk to in order to get an interview. You never know how valuable a relationship might turn out to be, so go out and make some more connections.
Admittedly, I’m not the best networker out there, there are multiple ways to network though. In the past when I was afraid of being that guy, I made sure to become friends with that guy. My relationship with that guy (who happened to have a much bigger network than me) ultimately paid off in the form of a great marketing internship last summer.
I’d like to leave you with a quote by Goethe that I think really drives home the point about not knowing what might be around the next corner…
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it now. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."