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The Secret Sauces of Networking: 5 Steps to Improve your Networking Skills

If you’ve read our previous article on How to Get a Job, you might’ve already found one of the most frequently asked questions about networking. So, allow us to ask you again, “How do you Network?” While you’re thinking about the question, let’s agree that even having the courage to chat with someone new can be a rough start, which is why in this post, we’d like to share some simple steps that may be suitable for you to start networking in terms of getting new opportunities.

Before we begin to uncover the secret sauce behind your new networking strategy, let us give you a heads up about the term you’ll use to understand how you connect. Informational interview or can also be known as coffee chat, is a low-pressure, highly productive way to find out your curiosities, career insights, and advice while building your network and practicing your interviewing skills. Doing informational interviews with professionals can be a massive opportunity to gain more insights into their career path, profession, organization, and industry. The most effective way to do interviews is by talking face-to-face, but you should also consider the circumstances. If both of you can’t meet in person, your conversations can also happen through video calls, phone, or email. To get started, carefully follow these steps!

1. Go beyond your comfort zone

Networking may seem difficult if you’re still very much in your comfort zone. Start reaching out to people! It can be as easy as starting with your circle of friends, colleagues, or your friend’s friend *wink*. You can also begin practicing by talking to real, random strangers since it needs to be more cultivated in our habits. Taking that leap of faith and into the unknown is necessary to gain your field of interests and a new perspective about your career choice. Knowing that you have nothing to lose but much to gain, even if you happen to get a "no," is totally fine! There are still millions of people left in this world. Note that excessive fear is not the option that you will take because it won't take you anywhere, we swear. So, be bold!

2. Locate the people you want to meet

As you expand your inner boldness within you, here’s the part where you start locating the people that interest you. We recommend you to start with your alumnus. If you knew one or two friendly alumni, that’s great! They are often the most open to speaking with students and

recent graduates of their alma mater. Secondly, ask your professors or well-known lecturers if they know of any contacts you could reach in your field of interest. Moreover, go through your LinkedIn or other social networking sites as it is an excellent platform to find professionals whose pathways align with your passion.

3. Make contact

This step is crucial because it'll give them that "first impression" based on how you do your network. Send a brief, clear message about yourself and your intentions while asking for an informational interview. It will also be more appropriate if you happen to know someone that’s mutual with your designated interviewee. A call or email of introduction from a mutual contact like a friend or alumni can increase your chances of scheduling an interview. Here’s an example of how you might request an informational interview:

“My name is Kate Middleton, and I am currently a junior at St. Andrews. I am considering pursuing educational psychology, and I am writing to find out if you might be available to meet with me briefly for a chat. I’d love to hear about your career path and experience and get any insights you can provide on the field. I understand if you’re probably busy, but please let me know if you have any time to meet in the next several weeks. Thanks so much for your time!”

As suppose to the example, you can see that the request is concise and friendly. Ensure your request is reasonable by acknowledging your interviewee’s schedule and offering to meet at their convenience, not yours. That includes outside business hours, such as early mornings or late nights. After you press that send button, don’t expect a return call or email within a week. If you haven’t gotten any replies, especially if it’s your first contact, it’s inappropriate to send a follow-up note. Remember, they have their schedules and are probably busy!

4. Be prepared

But if you do get any replies from them, you better be prepared! After scheduling a time to meet, the next step is to make sure you have done some research about them and write a list of interesting questions to fulfill your curiosities. Because through experiences, people like to talk about themselves, so this should be fun for both of you! Here are some questions for consideration:

  • What attracted you to this type of work?

  • What are the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of your current role?

  • What skills, qualities, and experiences does your employer seek in new hires?

  • What trends do you see currently in your profession?

  • Given what we have discussed today, are there any other people you’d recommend me to connect with?

5. Follow up with a “Thanks”

Lastly, follow up with a heartfelt thanks in an email or handwritten personal note as they’ve taken their time to meet with you for an informational interview and have done you a tremendous favor. Because we’ll never know what the future brings, right? Maybe they could be a beneficial part of your forthcoming career. So, keep that connection real tight!

In conclusion, knowing how to network is one of the essential tools you need to prepare as you enter the employment world. At first, networking might seem difficult. Hopefully, the steps that we’ve shared above can ease your difficulties and enhance your social skills. As an anonymous person once said, “Understand that networking is an ongoing process, not a discrete event. Success comes from consistently making new contacts, following up, and keeping in touch.” Let us know how you think of networking by leaving a comment down below! Also, stay tuned for more blog posts if you’re interested in career development and follow our page on Instagram @ayureadypodcast!


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