As a pajama-clad college student, I never thought I’d be sitting in the office of the Vice President of Student Affairs discussing budget items and making decisions about the future of the college. But that’s what happened four years after I graduated.
Had I acted a total fool as a college student, I’m pretty sure that never would have happened. Since I minded my manners pretty well, made good grades, participated in campus activities, and networked with staff, faculty, and fellow students during my time on campus, it was easy for me to transition from student to employee after spending a few years working in entry-level positions.
Networking came pretty naturally.
One of the tricky things about networking I’ve learned over the years is that I’m constantly building relationships with people and continually making impressions on those around me. Those impressions have a lot to do with choices I make about how I communicate with others. From the non-verbal cues I give off by my facial expressions and hairstyles, to the clothes I select in the morning, to the way I cross my arms or put my hands in my pockets, I send silent—though often times very loud—messages to those around me. Combine this with the words I speak, my tone of voice, and how loudly or quietly I choose to speak, and you’ve got one complicated communication creature.
Many times, particularly in the workplace or in various social settings, I have limited choices about which people I’m around. I might not feel drawn to someone or like someone very much, but my desk might be located in the cubicle next to hers. This isn’t my choice, but it is what it is.
What does this have to do with networking?
With very few exceptions, I’ve managed to remain on great terms with everyone I’ve encountered in life. This has benefited me in multiple ways. If I need to ask for help—whether with a job search or to simply ask for information in a particular area of expertise—I don’t cringe because it requires calling someone I might dislike. I don’t fear a negative response because I know I have done my part in the relationship to maintain positive vibes.
If you burn bridges throughout life, you’ll find it difficult to navigate eventually.
Think carefully about how you treat people in your life on a daily basis. The time to treat people well is in the present moment, not when you need a favor in the future. You just never know who—and what—you’ll need, but if you treat people well, you’ll generally be treated well in return.
Do you struggle with networking, branding, and selling yourself during interviews? Do you want to improve your own networking skills?
Contact me, and I’ll help you become a pro.