The biggest hurdle for networking can be broken down to the psychological level. Trying to connect and converse with an adult who is employed by a firm on your list can be very intimidating at face value. Prior to approaching the employer, our mind typically over analyzes multiple topics of conversation relating to the respective company while overlooking the most important element of networking: acknowledging the fact that the person you intend on conversing with is human. Meaning, the best way to establish a meaningful relationship with them is to create a personal connection rather than solely listing the reasons why you’re pursuing their company. Initiating the conversation is half the battle when making a connection; whether the conversation is about professional sports or books, making a connection at the personal level will make you more memorable and could help expand your network through that newly established relationship.
After connecting with the recruiter or employee, the best practice is to try to connect with them on LinkedIn and reach out within 24 hours. If you do not have a LinkedIn, then I highly suggest you create one as it is a simplified way to staying connected with people in your network and expanding your network. When reaching out your connection after your initial interaction, be sure to reference the piece of your conversation where you both relate. By doing so, the recipient will be able to quickly recognize and recollect the conversation further embedding you within their long-term memory.
Do not allow yourself to reach out only once after initially interacting with a recruiter or employer. If you want to solidify your network, then you should reach out to the individuals you established a relationship with occasionally. For example, sending them an email wishing them a Happy New Year or Merry Christmas or joy on other holidays. If you know that their company will be on campus for an event, then reach out to your connection and ask if they are available to sit down and chat over a cup of coffee.
When determining a time to meet with your connection, be sure to propose a time and location up front rather than asking them for their general availability. Proposing the time and location shows you taking initiative and desire to strengthen your relationship. Which is how networking can essentially be summarized: generating concrete relationships with people through a meaningful and mutual connection.