Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Networking 101

What the rest of the country is just beginning to experience has been a way of life for us living in Michigan. Signs of a weakening economy are so ever present that we’re sometimes past the point of noticing. We’ve been driving—or with the increased price of gas, maybe biking—past evidence of a shrinking economy for nigh onto many months.
Which led me to think that it just might be time for some good news in the form of my Person of the Week, alias Theo. Theo’s got one more year of school left, his 5th year, and he admittedly started looking for internships very late this year. What he’s got going for him, however, is a hefty load of sheer persistence and a dash of flexibility (full time/part time/unpaid with part time paid elsewhere—you name it). That plus the ability to network with about everyone he knows.
So, what does that networking look like? In this case, it takes place at the local gym where Theo is well known and well liked. In between bench presses or during water breaks he approaches senior sweaty buffs with a simple question about internship options within their work place or possible referrals. And he’s getting a number of sympathetic and supportive responses, as most of these people would love to have a hard working guy such as Theo around. Nothing is clinched yet but it’s looking pretty optimistic.
What Theo does naturally may seem more of a stretch to others. But networking is a skill which anyone can master. Here are two easy ways to get started:
• First, take a fresh look at your environment. Who do you come into contact with as you work, worship or play? Theo isn’t doing anything different by heading to the gym; he just mined that normal, everyday routine for possibilities.
• Think about what you have to offer an employer and include some of those skills in your conversations, making use of lead in’s when talking about yourself such as the following: adept at, experienced with, comfortable with, trained in, or skilled at.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 06/04 at 02:44 PM
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