"A philosopher once wrote you need three things to have a good life. One, a meaningful relationship, two, a decent job of work, and three, to make a difference." David Brent

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Guest Post - God Save the Queen (it got Charles a Job)

This week we feature a fabulous post from Charles Oben who gives 5 fantastic networking tips, a must read for any graduate unsure of how best to open career doors. Be sure to check out his fantastic blog here, his Visual CV is pretty impressive.

Queen Elizabeth rules. Why? Well besides the fact that she's now jumping out of helicopters, she’s also helping people get jobs. Or more precisely her Jubilee celebration did because it was a great time for networking – this was when I happened to meet one of my brother’s friends whose sister works in advertising. 2 weeks later I met said sister in person when I started working for the same company. The saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ exists for a reason. As I think networking is something too useful for any student to miss out on, I’m going you give you my own take on Networking 101 based on my experiences.  

1. Who With?
Everybody. I like to think that every single person you meet either directly or indirectly knows somebody that you want to have in your network. So resist the temptation to rule people out because you never really know who knows who. Starting with family and friends is a given. It’s also important to not focus solely on the ‘big wigs’ of the industry – the CEO’s, the MD’s etc when you’re trying to build up a network. Because those lower down in the hierarchy can turn out to be just as useful.

2. How?
Meet people. Obvious yes, but true nonetheless so it’s important that you remember to put yourself out there. Attend events, go to talks, arrange lunch dates, do the whole shebang. LinkedIn is a good place to find out about events going on that are relevant to the industry you want to work in. But there’s tons of information out there on the internet. Find it, use it.

You could also mix that in with this whole online branding thing which seems to be the latest buzz. Depending on your particular interests – join lots of groups on LinkedIn, consider setting up your own website to showcase your talent and maybe start a blog. Then, and this is what some folks often forget, talk to people about it. Participate in discussions, comment in forums, share your content and ask for feedback. There’s no point being online if no one knows you’re there.

3. The Hook
You’re not going fishing, but you still need a hook - a reason for the initial contact. This is more so for meeting people in person but the same thing applies generally. So you need to have an angle, and often this means you need to do some research. Your hook doesn’t have to be ground breaking as no one likes a stalker, and if it’s all been done online it could be something as simple as commenting on an article, but you still need one. From that you can start a conversation, and from there, try to develop a relationship. A good hook can work wonders on a first meeting because if it sounds like you genuinely care about what you’re asking, people are more likely to remember what you said.

4. Networking 101
Good networking shouldn’t feel like networking. So try to keep things relaxed and make it seem like networking isn’t your only aim. It’s likely that it is, but it won’t do you any favours to keep reminding whoever you’re talking to of that fact. And when it comes to following up, try to be original. I doubt you want to be classed as just another student who wants Mr X to look at their CV. So try a different approach. If you do interesting things, interesting things will happen to you.

5. Stay In touch
Stay in touch doesn’t mean only contact someone when you need something; it genuinely means stay in touch, even if it’s just a quick hello here and there. Or if you’re not too keen on that then plan in advance – when you know you’re going to need something, start reconnecting with the person way before so that when somewhere down the line you magically happen to remember you need help with this or that, it seems far more genuine.

Lastly, and this is just common sense more than anything - be nice, but not fake, persistent but not annoying and know when to give up. No matter what you do, some people just won’t like you. As for when to call it quits, trust your gut, it’s smarter than you.

To find out more about me and my life as a recent grad, then please visit my blog: http://charlesoben.blogspot.co.uk/. (Beware, I’ve been told I’m prone to ranting)

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