Become a Networking Rock Star

I didn’t go to an Ivy League school or graduate at the top of my class. Hell, I didn’t even come from a family rooted in my field (not all connections are from mommy and daddy). But somehow, right out of school I landed a job as a broker at one of the top investment banks on Wall Street.So how did I do it, you ask? Bribery? Sneak attacks? No! I became a networking rock star. Here’s how to do the same:

Begin with the network you already have.
Think about the people you already know: school alumni, your local bartender’s cousin, that pal from your summer waiter gig. Even if they are not working in your field of interest, don’t be afraid to politely ask them to put you in touch with people who are.

Don’t ask for a job or internship.

All right, that’s not totally true. There will come a time for that, but your initial conversations should be strictly information. ‘I am interested in what you do, blah blah blah’ (Note: don’t actually say the “blahsâ€? out loud). Yes, people realize you’re not calling after two years to catch-up on old times. Ask them about their experience and you’ll soon learn that most people love to talk about themselves.

Make yourself memorable.
It’s not enough to be another phone call or appointment. Be the candidate who has a crazy interest everyone will want to talk about. Do you live for Big League chew bubble gum? Been skydiving lately? Put it in the ‘interests and hobbies’ section of your resume. First interviews are about standing out among your peers even when they are more qualified than you. Most companies are looking for the right ‘fit,’ which is more than just stats. They will certainly remember the guy who loves pink Starburst over the person who has a 4.0 GPA.

Find mentors.
Let those more experienced guide you, teach you and take an interest in you. Also, no matter where you end up, never forget them. People like to feel important ‘ let them.

Skip convention.
Stay away from ‘group meetings’ or ‘group resume drops.’ Don’t be afraid to be aggressive and inventive, but be careful not to be presumptuous, obnoxious or take advantage of people’s time.

Keep in touch.
It’s not enough to make a phone call or send an e-mail ‘ plan follow-up appointments for coffee or drinks. It doesn’t matter what you’re chatting about – if VIPs are talking to you, you’re strengthening your network. Always follow-up with a thank-you note (yes, your mother was right).

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