BY: MORGAN ZYSMAN
On October 15th, PRSSA-UD welcomed career counselor, Nichole Hitchner, who spoke all about networking. Nichole focused on giving us tips on how to make connections, keep those connections, expand our networks, and how to present ourselves in the best way possible, whether it is online or in-person.
Nichole told us that more people are being hired now because of the people they know. Most jobs aren’t being posted, so talking to people you know in the field, at a career fair, or even your professors can help get your foot in the door. Here are a few tips she taught us and things to keep in mind:
Tip #1: “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who knows you are looking.”
When Nichole said this quote, it really stuck out to me. In the past when I’ve heard this quote, it is usually stated, “It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know.” Now, Nichole told us it isn’t only about who you know, but those people have to know you are currently looking for a job/internship. If you are lucky enough to have someone in your network that works in the field you are interested in, talk to them! Make it known that you are currently looking for a job/internship, so that when opportunities arise, you are fresh in their mind. People love helping people they know, so reminding them you are actively looking will let them know you are interested and prepared.
Tip #2: Your existing network is bigger than you think.
Nichole explained the “Law of 250,” which states that every person knows at least 250 people. Each of your those 250 people, (your contacts), knows at least 250 other people. So, that is 62,500 people at your second level. Each of your second level contacts knows 250 people — which makes your network grow to over 15,000,000! Your network includes your friends’ friends, extended family and their families, your classmate’s families, friends, and co-workers, alumni and their friends, and professors/supervisors and their connections. My network is definitely bigger than I thought it was after learning this!
Tip #3: Your social media platforms are vital to your career.
The top 3 platforms used by employers are LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Especially in this field, having a professional online presence is so important. Besides just having a presence, it’s essential your presence is professional, relevant, and always updated so that employers know what you are capable of and can see your past experiences. You should be proud of what is on your social platforms, so if you have any work samples or projects you’re proud of, post them!
Tip #4: Informational Interviews and “30-Second Commercials”
An informational interview is not a job interview. It is just an informal meeting with someone who works in an area of interest to you. It is a great way to get information about the career field you are interested in. The best information and advice comes from people who are actually working in that field. Most people are happy to talk about their career and professional life, and how they got to where they are. To prepare for this meeting, Nichole taught us how to construct our own “30-second commercials,” which is really just a quick way to introduce yourself and highlight the best and most relevant things about yourself! We did a fun activity where we came up with our “30-second commercial” and then shared it with different people around the room. It was a great way to practice presenting ourselves and was helpful getting to hear what other people included in their “commercial” that you might have not thought about!
Tip #5: The Importance of LinkedIn
After speaking just about networking, Nichole then focused on LinkedIn, which is becoming the most important professional platform. It allows us to now have a direct connection with professionals around the world, or with people who we aspire to work with in the future. Nichole led us through some basic tips on how to improve our profiles, which were including a professional headshot, a headline, highlighting your talents, posting work samples, and updating your recent work or volunteer experience. She then walked us through the importance of sending an introductory message on LinkedIn when forming a connection, or sending a follow-up message/thank-you message after meeting or speaking with someone.
Tip #6: Networking is a two-way street.
Finally, some last reminders Nichole gave were to always have good eye contact, give a strong handshake, and have a big smile. People like to help and give advice, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions! Networking is a two-way street, so you also have to do your part to keep the relationship alive and always follow-up with people you have reached out to. Stay in contact and always be appreciative.
Through this presentation, I have gained valuable skills I will take with me through the rest of my personal and professional life. Thank you, Nichole, for giving a very important and informative presentation! This Skill Slam definitely helped us all! I now feel more prepared going into the next chapter of my life!