5 Quick Tips on “First Time” Networking from a Davidson Senior

–Original blog Contribution by: Mahlek Pothemont (’16)

Networking can definitely seem like a hassle for any student. However, establishing and expanding your networks is arguably the most important tool you have here at Davidson. Here are 5 quick tips to help you best utilize your networking abilities!

 Be Proactive

Being at the right place at the right time takes planning. Before attending any public forum, think about who could possibly be there and what tools you will need to make good impression. Practice your elevator speech that gives people a basic rundown of your academic status and your professional interests. Also, consider printing out business cards that display similar background information.

Be Present

The only way you can take advantage of networking opportunities is to go and seek them out! Networking events and programs happen everywhere you go. In fact, I consider it to be something that happens 24/7 at Davidson. Every person at the college (student, staff, etc.) has the potential to be added to your network, so don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.

Be Engaging

Networking is definitely a two way street. When you want access to a network be ready to open up yours to others as well. This requires a certain amount of engagement during the first conversation. A good way to do this is to get an individual talking about their own experiences. Often, just asking for advice can establish a positive dynamic and bring some clarity to the potential career path you’re interested in.

Be Aggressive

Contrary to popular belief, it pays off to be forthright in your networking tactics. The people you meet are not going to have enough time to talk to everyone that wants to talk to them. This is where your business cards come in handy!  You should take advantage of every opportunity to place yourself in networks, even if only to request a later conversation. Business card etiquette typically means that if you give a card, you get a card in return, so you will have access to followup with that person shortly after meeting.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

Be Prompt

When networking, timing is everything. When you’re scheduled for a lunch or networking call, try your best to be at least 10 minutes early to the meet-up location. When following up on a networking connection, give yourself a 24-hour time limit for response when corresponding via email. Being prompt in your communication can be the difference between a valuable connection and a damaged one.

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