Most Marketable Skill: Networking

*This post is part of Webucator’s Most Marketable Skill Campaign*

An online learning company called Webucator recently contacted me, asking me to participate in their Most Marketable Skill Campaign. I think people say this all the time but honestly networking is so important when trying to get a job. I know from personal experience that networking is not the easiest thing to do (it’s the worst) but it’s also just a really good way to get your foot in the door for a job you want.

When it comes to networking people always think it’s about finding someone in your field that you can suck up to so that they’ll hire you. That’s not the case and that’s why people shy away from it so much.

Truthfully networking is pretty easy especially if you know where to start. First, you don’t necessarily have to seek out one specific person in your field and stalk them until they meet with you. That’s not the most efficient way to network. The best way is to go to a career fair, conference, or through your schools career center and talk to people.

For myself, last summer I went to my school’s career website and looked at alumni who had English majors, worked in journalism, or just did something that I thought sounded cool. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for but I knew I wanted to talk to someone that worked in a field I found interesting. That’s how I met someone who worked at People magazine. She agreed to meet with me and encouraged me to apply for a summer internship, which I did. After going through a rigorous internship process I got the job and worked for them this past summer and it was a great step in my career process.

What I learned from that experience and other experiences I’ve had is the most important thing about networking is keeping in touch. You might meet someone that’s awesome or work for someone that’s awesome but after you leave it’s like, “What now?” Well first of all you should always email them and say thank you. It’s always a good idea to leave things on the right foot because it’s never genuine if the only time you talk to them is to find out about job openings.

Secondly, you don’t have to reach out every day or even every week. When you feel you haven’t spoken to them in a while reach out but don’t fill their email up with spam. They probably get enough emails as it is.

When emailing it can be tricky figuring out what to say but it can be something as simple as just a hello or an idea you had for their business that you think might interest them. For example, if I think of a story that I think would be great for People I can email someone I once worked for and suggest it. Of course they might say no and that’s fine. It happens but at least now they’re more likely to remember you when a job opens up. Also if you’re nearby to the person don’t be afraid to ask them to grab coffee and chat. It’s especially great if you offer to pay. Who wouldn’t want a grande ice coffee mocha for free?

I won’t deny that networking can be difficult sometimes. No one wants to beg someone for a job and it’s hard to know when you’re reaching out too much or not enough. My best suggestion would be to think about if some high school freshmen was emailing you for guidance. How many times would they email you before you got annoyed? What number of emails what make you think of them as more of an annoyance than a cute admirer? Use that number to know when you’re doing too much.

Just try your best to stay in touch with the contacts you make because you never know when it could lead to something amazing. If you’re already good at networking and need to work on your resume or other computer skills, Webucator has a free Microsoft training course of the month to help make individuals more marketable to employers.

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