Networking means getting to know people; fostering relationships and creating a network of people that can lead to great opportunities. A person in your network is someone who can support you professionally or help you find opportunities to work, volunteer, gain experience or make valuable connections.
If you are looking for a job, volunteer experiences, scholarships, etc, then you have probably done a bit of networking already. Also you probably know that everyone around you is networking, so here are some networking tips for teens that can help you stand out from the crowd.Use social media? You might be thinking, who is more of an expert other than you!? Well actually, if you want to use social media for social networking, it may be time to slightly change the way you use the various social platforms. Use social media to interact with companies, employers, colleges, and universities. It may help you stand out from the crowd. Remember to keep in mind that your social media accounts are public, so present yourself in an appropriate and positive way. One valuable social media site for professional networking is LinkedIn. It’s a great platform to make connections, find opportunities and find jobs. It’s never too early to make an account. And don’t just stop with creating your profile. To truly network using the site, you need to join groups that are relevant to your career path. So for example, if you want a career in media or marketing, you might choose to join a group like Media & Marketing Professionals Worldwide where you can keep up to date with relevant news and events, post content that you think others will find interesting (to get noticed!) and join in the conversation by commenting on other people’s posts.Before you go to a networking event, practice! Practice how you will introduce yourself, your body language, your handshake, your facial expressions. Prepare for questions such as “tell me about yourself” or “tell me about your experiences”, practice asking questions too. Practice everything that you will do or think you will do. If you need to show materials such as a portfolio or resume, have those prepared. Being prepared will help you feel more comfortable and ready.
Need some help coming up with questions? Here is a useful list of Networking Questions to Ask by Harvard Law SchoolTreat every day and everyone you meet as an opportunity to network. Classmates, teachers, counselors, coaches, and friends could help you find opportunities, get information or help connect you to someone else. So from now, be alert to those people in your life and consider how they might connect you to an opportunity. If someone you know if so kind as to offer you an introduction to a great new connection or opportunity, never let it pass you by! Make sure you follow up with whatever it is that they have put in front of you and show your appreciation for them taking an interest in you and your career.Lastly, not every networking opportunity requires you to be formal or professional, the majority of the people in your network you meet and interact with casually. So keep it casual, remember that the people in your network are your parents, your friends, your teachers etc, so treat them as such. Networking can seem stressful and tough but keep these tips in mind and it will become fun.
Written by Vimbai Chikoore