Improving your networking skills and meeting new people can provoke a lot of anxiety, but it’s worth taking the risk and talking with others in your fields of interest.
“People are a resource. Your network is your resource,” said Elizabeth Chevry, talent acquisition coordinator for NBCUniversal. “Networking conversations give information for you to soak up and apply to your career and professional advancement.”
Chevry and Ariane Centrella, talent acquisition recruiter for NBCUniversal’s Operations and Technology, share important networking skills in the video above and in the edited remarks below.
Who should be in your network?
Centrella: Your community in your professional life. It’s mentors, potential mentors, colleagues, competitors, peers, friendly people from your personal life and parents. Social media is your best friend. Be active on LinkedIn. Follow organizations that are of interest. Reach out and stay in contact with hiring leaders or people in companies that you’re interested in.
Chevry: The people that make up your network should definitely be adjacent to your goals.
Perfect your elevator pitch
Centrella: Your elevator pitch should be brief — 30 seconds to explain who you are. “I’m so-and-so, I do X, Y and Z, and this is what I’m looking for.” Then you have the “so what” factor, the statement that tells them why they should even bother responding to you. Once you do that, and they start engaging with you, then it’s just a conversation.
Networking in person
Chevry: When you step into a professional networking event, give yourself time to get comfortable, unwind and be able to confidently have conversations. Make sure you have fun with it. Don’t make it too much of a job, because that takes away from the naturalness of the conversation and the connections you’re going to make.
Centrella: Just like a job search, you have to know what kinds of companies you want to interact with. You need to know who’s going to be there and what you are hoping to gain out of connections you make. Research what might be discussed at the event. That way, you have something to speak about when you’re talking to people.
Keep in touch
Chevry: Always, always, always end your conversations with a call to action, whether that be “Let’s connect on LinkedIn,” or “Let’s set up a coffee chat.” You want to set up some time in the next two or three weeks.
Centrella: Have regular touchpoints with these people. As your career evolves and you keep reaching out to people, you will tweak your practices and get more comfortable. The more you do it, the better you get.