Claiming This Spot

The Newbie’s Guide to Working Your Network

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Stress-induced graduates are facing the reality that getting a job is harder than walking across a stage, grabbing a piece of paper, and posing for seemingly hundreds of photos after the fact. We are told continuously “It’s all about who you know”. If you don’t know anyone, you won’t get a job. My network has graciously given me sound pieces of advice on how to conduct myself so I can build my network, and experience has helped me learn the true value of a first impression.

When I first entered the Loyalist College Public Relations post-graduate program, I thought I had the rare knowledge of what is expected of me when I enter the workforce. This is primarily because of the professionals I already knew in different industries. Unfortunately, there are many graduates less fortunate to have learned how to transition from a student to a professional. Therefore, the information I’ve retained the most in the last 2 semesters is how to dress the part, act the part, and BE the part so that you can network more effectively.

Giving respect to others and not just trying to earn respect is a skill I think many graduates are unaware of while networking. I went into the Belleville Emerging Leaders event in October with the mindset that I was going to practice meeting people and make the most of it, and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the connections I made. Networking opportunities have helped give me time to practice the minute details — in my experience a firm handshake, listening, and dressing appropriately go a long way.

These ideas were confirmed when I traveled to Gothenburg, Sweden this past December to present the 2016 World Floorball Championships at the International Floorball Federation (IFF) General Assembly. I met people that were seemingly beyond me with their impressive careers and success. The IFF and country delegates were thrilled that Canada was hosting a World Championship and were eager to hear more. However, when I got to know them and their causes and affiliations before explaining mine, there was a connection made that exceeded just rhyming off what I was doing 6100 kilometers from home. Doing the research and dressing appropriately, learning some Swedish words and customs (like needing to have a firm handshake) were the catalysts.

Starting to sound similar when applying for a job, doesn’t it?

Don’t sweat it if you’re not comfortable meeting new people. However, it may be worth the extra effort to create these opportunities for yourself, because I do believe that it’s (almost) all about who you know. The “almost” implying that you should be prepared to have the skills to back up your resume when you’re networking.

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