Life

Making Connections Offline

Networking—you’ve probably heard of it, but have you ever done it? It plays a vital role in helping you make connections as you look for jobs, apply to college, or start a business of your own, and it’s a lot easier than you might think! There’s no better time to start networking than during high school.

Networking—you’ve probably heard of it, but have you ever done it? It plays a vital role in helping you make connections as you look for jobs, apply to college, or start a business of your own, and it’s a lot easier than you might think! There’s no better time to start networking than during high school. The earlier you start, the more practice you’ll have, and the more professional you’ll appear.

BE BRAVE. Wanna know a secret? Adults don’t always feel confident talking to other people either. When you’re faced with a networking opportunity, remind yourself that the scariest part is just starting the conversation. If you don’t know what to say, a simple handshake and an introduction works surprisingly well! Once the word, “Hello,” is out of your mouth, everything after will get easier.

BE ENGAGED. You might have a lot to say, but so might the person you are looking to connect with. Conversations are always a two-way street. Try not to respond to questions with a simple yes or no. Instead, elaborate and ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation flowing. If you have time, research the person you’ll be talking to. Knowing a little about their background can help you know what to say (Note that we didn’t say stalk the person! Starting a conversation with a stranger by saying, “How is Dwight? Your son? Age 5? Blonde hair?” is a nono). Be engaged, maintain eye contact, and show interest.

BRING FRIENDS. Bringing a friend along can boost your confidence, and will prevent you from having to do all the talking. If you and a friend (or several friends) are interested in the same career field, network together! Being in a group means you don’t necessarily have to talk first, and you can all take turns contributing to the conversation.

CONNECT ONLINE. Old-fashioned paper business cards are still important, but social media is also an extremely valuable tool you can use to stay connected with others. After meeting someone at an event, remember to connect with them online. The best platforms to connect with professionals are LinkedIn and Twitter. Make sure to keep your social media accounts clean- don’t post anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with a future boss or business partner seeing.

LinkedIn:

  • Connect with professionals.
  • Post your resume.
  • Search job listings.

Twitter:

  • Connect with professionals.
  • Stay updated on industries you’re interested in.
  • Communicate with your network.

BE PATIENT. A relationship doesn’t blossom from one conversation. Work hard to maintain and grow connections over time, just like you would with your friends. Keep in mind that not every networking opportunity will be highly successful—just keep going! You might meet someone who inspires you to do something you’ve never considered before. You never know what you might learn when you start a conversation. Keep your mind open and your ears sharp to pick up any valuable information. You could be one networking session away from meeting people who will play a critical role in your future!

Sarah Nourse is a lifestyle blogger and YouTuber. She motivates her followers to make intentional and responsible decisions on a daily basis so they can travel, become financially independent, and pursue their dreams.

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