Monday, August 20, 2012

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know


In all aspects of life, who you know will put you in the positions you find yourself in. Anyone can benefit from networking when the right effort is exerted. The key to networking is to associate yourself with people who are in positions or have the lifestyle that you would like for yourself. 

When the importance of networking was first stressed to me, it was displayed as a web or social graph.
 This social graph shows one person being the center of connection for everyone touched by the social graph, that is their network. The more people you know, the larger your network will grow because for every person you add to your network, you gain their network as well. This is vital in the quest to broaden, begin or change a career.

After the social graph was shown, the "elevator speech" was next on the agenda. Here is one that I used to use:

"Hello, my name is Cherisse. I am currently a student at Spelman College pursuing my undergraduate degree in Economics. After graduation I would love to return to New York, where I am originally from, to pursue a career in Investment Banking as a Research Analyst."

It is a quick (thirty second) summary of what you're doing now and what your goals are that can be said to someone while riding in an elevator with them from one floor to the next. Now, the elevator speech can be translated to a Summary on your resume or your LinkedIn page or a Bio on Twitter. 

Here are a few things that I feel are very important to how you approach building your network:

1. Make sure all of your marketing materials are up to date, without typos and have a clean & concise format.
(Resume, cover letter, business cards, reference list, social media pages, blogs and voicemail messages)

2. Always appear clean and well put together, not only when you are attending events, but all the time - you never know who you will run into at the grocery store.

3. Practice your "elevator speech" in front of the mirror until you feel that you are delivering it effectively.

4. Take advantage of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to market yourself in a positive way. Even if you cannot expand your network with a face to face opportunity, you can use your friends and mentors to expand your network through social media. 

5. Join professional organizations that coincide with the career you are pursuing. You will be exposed to people who have done exactly what you are doing and who can be a mentor to you.

More exposure will lead to more people knowing how valuable you are as a person, an employee and an entrepreneur. Networking puts you in position to let others know that you can be a benefit to their organization and for you to learn the tricks of the trade. I have learned from workshops and experiences that there are different levels of networking and each day brings a new opportunity to attend an event or take advantage of a casual meeting. 

Here are my top networking opportunities:
  • Conferences
  • Professional Organizations
  • Gym/Fitness Classes
  • Interviews
  • Introduction through Mutual Friends
  • Seminars
  • Social Networks
  • Sporting Events
Please read the article below for more on the value of networking:

Please leave comments and questions! I will be happy to help anyone develop their networking skills!

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