Some of you might think that networking for career or business-related purposes will only be of importance once you graduate. Others rarely miss an opportunity to make new contacts, such as the National Student Entrepreneurship Conference, Sheffield-based MADE festival or career events organized by the university.
No matter which group you belong to, sooner or later you will encounter a situation or event where you might want to network. And keeping a few pieces of advice in mind, it can be really beneficial. After having attended some amazing events myself and having read through articles written by more experienced business people, these tips might be useful for you:
1. Give, don’t take
It would be all too great if one could approach someone at a conference and get a job offer/much needed publicity/a referral or whatever they were looking for straight away. However, put yourself in place of the other person. Would you really consider helping someone you’ve just met, if you have the feeling you would gain nothing in return? Probably not. So, first think about what you could offer yourself, and it might turn into a mutually beneficial relationship.
2. Don’t be judgmental
Even if someone seems like they have nothing in common with you, try to find out more about them. Really, you never know.
3. Be kind
If you are rather shy and don’t feel comfortable meeting a lot of new people, keep in mind that you’re not alone. So, if you see someone standing apart from the group, save them from that awkward situation by trying to include them in the conversation you’re having at that moment.
4. Ask open-ended questions
To avoid ever-repeating small talk, ask questions which cannot be answered by a simple “yes” or “no”.
5. And, lastly, don’t overdo it
People are different, and while some hate networking events, others cannot get enough of them. However, in the end you also need to do some real work. There is no point connecting with a lot of people in order to tell them about your great start-up plan when you don’t have enough time and energy left to put it into action.