Networking can be tough and, sometimes, a little awkward. Check out this article from our career coach on how to be genuine and effective in building your network.
Tim Flood, Associate Professor of Management Communication at Kenan Flagler Business School, teaches several courses in the MBA program. He also works as a pitch coach with many entrepreneurship/start-up accelerators in the Triangle and Triad. His expertise lies in cross-cultural communication and messaging. In 2017, I attended one of Tim’s very engaging workshops on networking.
While he covered a lot of ground in his presentation, one comment very early on struck a chord with me. We all have self-doubt and worry about how we’ll come across when meeting new people, but the key to being likable is simple: be concise, be clear and be authentic. This is straight-forward but powerful formula for building your network.
Reaching out to people you don’t know can be nerve-wracking. However, with 70 – 80% of jobs found through networking and relationship building, connecting with others during your search is more important now than ever. If you respect people’s time, you will build good will and more meaningful connections. When networking, be clear about your skills, what drives you and what you’re looking for. Be sure to ask good questions, listen and connect your passions and drivers to theirs.
Here are a few sample questions to use in informational interviews and networking conversations:
- Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
- What led you to pursue a career in your field?
- What does a typical day look like for you?
- What advice do you have for someone looking to break into the field?
- Are there professional organizations that you would recommend I join?
Also, consider using the Tar Heel Advising Network to search for connections in companies, roles or industries of interest.