Networking has become an essential in today’s world to find a job. It is more likely that you will land a job through a connection than through a resume or through academic achievement. Being a young woman, the job market can be tedious to navigate and having a few connections would make the process simpler and smoother to run through.
The question though, is how does one go forward in building these networks? Is collecting business cards and making a profile on LinkedIn enough? I would like to believe the answer is no. Connections and networks are formed through having a reciprocal and non- competitive relationship with those you work and study with. Below are a few tips to help you build networks effectively:
Have a Goal in Mind: While going to form a connection with an individual, you should have a set goal in mind about what you wish to achieve out of your relationship with the person. If you have this goal prepared, talking to the other person becomes easier as you have a path along which you want to take the relationship. For example if you wish to ask a NGO if they have any open seats for volunteers, it can be as simple as calling them and saying, “Are you taking any volunteers at the moment?”.
Icebreakers are the Key: In many situations, you cannot directly go and ask a person what you want out of them. It is key to get the conversation rolling through some icebreakers to reduce the awkwardness between you and the other person. If the person is a stranger you have never talked with before, it makes the conversation better as the person might just get to learn a little about you. In the above example concerning the NGO, you might want to start the conversation by telling the other person why you are interested in volunteering work and any past experience in the field.
Be Persistent: In the NGO example, what if the NGO says that will get back to you but have not? You might think they are ignoring you or they have rejected your application. But another reason very well could be that the NGO busy in everyday matters has forgotten to call you back. That's’ why if someone is not being responsive, we should not be quick to assume that we have been rejected. Instead the ideal response should be to follow up on your job and academic applications.
It’s Not About the Competition, It’s About the Cooperation:Let’s say you receive the position of volunteer at the NGO and you start working for them. You discover that one of the other volunteers is unable to do her job well because a family emergency. You might feel that the correct thing to do would be to report her to your higher ups so that they can replace her with someone more reliable. However, it would be better if you asked her if she needed help and maybe did some extra work at the NGO so that she could spend more time with her family. This way you will form reciprocal and cooperative connections which allow you to lean on and support your fellow workers.
Get to Know the People You Work With: We live in a world where cut throat competition is central to our workplaces. As a result workplaces become toxic and isolated. It’s always a good idea to get to know your colleagues so that you can make your workplace a healthier place for both you and your co- workers to work in. Collaboration is possible with co- workers only if intimate relationships are formed with them. In the NGO example, helping your friend out with her family emergency might make it easier for you to go and ask her in the future to help you on a project.
If you follow the above five points, you are bound to build a close- knit network of people who you can rely on irrespective of whether you have met them at your workplace or outside. Connection building is a skill that is much needed in this day and age for furthering your academics and work. However, connection building should not be limited to receiving gains from your connections and you should make it a point to develop connections with everyone in your environment. If not a job promotion, you will still have many close friends and fond memories from doing so.
Soyra Gune, part of Safecity’s Writer’s Movement, is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in economics from Azim Premji University. An intersectional feminist, Soyra enjoys teaching and debating with those around her about social issues that are close to her heart.