Question of the Day: How Do I Network?

This might be a good question of they day for your Careers Unit.  Being an effective networker helps not only in the an initial job search but is a skill that pays dividends throughout a career.

The article from the Economist highlights the skills needed to be a consummate networker:

Networking is not just for the elites. A study of staff at a range of German workplaces, carried out over three years by Hans-Georg Wolff and Klaus Moser of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, found a positive correlation between the amount of effort the workers said they put into building contacts—inside and outside their offices—and their pay rises and career satisfaction. “Networking can be considered an investment that pays off in the future,” it concludes. Indeed, Reid Hoffman has become a billionaire by investing in a series of companies that have brought networking to the masses—Friendster, SocialNet and LinkedIn.

So, what are the three skills that this columnist describes:

  • Abandon all shame: “The first principle for would-be networkers is to abandon all shame. Be flagrant in your pursuit of the powerful and the soon-to-be-powerful, and when you have their attention, praise them to the skies.”
  • A well-stocked mind:  “The second principle is that you must have something to say. Success comes from having a well-stocked mind, not just a well-thumbed Rolodex.”
  • Work hard at networking:  “The third principle is that you need to work hard at networking. Swot up in advance on the most important people who will be at an event. If you manage to meet them, follow up with an e-mail and a suggestion to meet again.”

I have a simple networking activity (PF2014_ScavengerHunt) that I use as an icebreaker on the first day of class so students have a chance to demonstrate these networking skills.  Try it and let me know how it goes!