Have you ever read an article and wondered, halfway through, whether the tips and suggestions were genuine or intended to be funny and snarky? You don’t want this to happen when you’re trying to learn about networking, whether you’re trying to build your connections in the workplace, learning about professional networking events and how to feel more at ease while eating/drinking with coworkers, or understanding the ins and outs of networking in order to aid your job search.
Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, dispels four networking myths (jokes, really) laid out in a networking tips article by The Onion in this short video and offers entry-level candidates genuine networking tips instead.
If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.
1. First impressions kind of do last forever… but you don’t need to use hand sanitizer after shaking someone’s hand.
Ignore The Onion’s advice on this one!
No better way to convince someone you’re going to be picky or odd to work with than to break out the hand sanitizer immediately after meeting them. If you have concerns about germs or cleanliness, try to hold your concerns in until you can get to a restroom, and then scrub your hands to your heart’s desire.
First impressions do matter, and they do last. This is true because of both the primacy effect and negativity bias. What you see, hear, and recognize first when you meet someone is what sticks with you. If those things you see, hear, and recognize are negative, that’s what sticks, unfortunately. Do your part to ensure that what people see, hear, and notice about you is positive. Dress professionally and look your best when attending networking events, job interviews, and other places when you might encounter employers or potential employers. Smile! Keep the topic of conversation light and polite. Be prepared to introduce yourself (prepare an elevator pitch).
Professional networking should occur during working hours/daytime; you should NOT confront employers at home at night as The Onion jokingly suggests. This is a surefire way to get yourself arrested.
2. Be respectful of employers’ personal lives and private space.
Even when texting or sending private messages/inboxing recruiters, try to limit one-on-one interaction to working hours or at least daytime hours. Keep in mind that when employers, recruiters, and hiring managers aren’t at work, they probably don’t want to interact with candidates. I know, it’s a blow to your ego to hear that. But it’s true.
3. You should ALWAYS ask people to tell their career stories.
The article by The Onion gests that people will share with you unhelpful, outdated ways to get jobs when you ask this question. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Instead, you’ll hear really interesting stories when you ask this question full of excellent job seeking and networking tips. If you’re listening carefully to someone who’s working in the career field you’re interested in, you might gain insights into how to start a business in your field, how to avoid common pitfalls in your industry, key names of important people you’ll need to connect with, and more.
Did you catch that?—if you’re LISTENING CAREFULLY you’ll gain lots of insight. If you zone out and think about whether you can make it to the cheese tray before the mozzarella cubes are gone (cheese does matter, but not more than finding a great job), you’ll miss all of it, and you will have wasted your night, aside from eating some snacks.
4. There’s no such thing as “selfish networking.” Period.
The article by The Onion states, “No matter how insincere you are, try the best you can to hide the fact that you’re only talking to someone because you want to use them.” Although the article is sarcastic, this is actually true.
People don’t want to be used because of their connections or titles or impressive possessions. People want to be appreciated for who they are.
Networking is about building and maintaining relationships. It is about give and take. Networking, for the job seeker, is about utilizing those relationships you’ve ALREADY built and maintained to help aid you in your job search.
The time to begin networking is not when you begin searching for jobs. It’s when you begin college or while you’re in high school. You build relationships with people throughout life. If you never stop building and maintaining relationships, networking is a natural part of life. When you need assistance with something—like searching for a job—you have nothing to worry about. You simply ask, and because you’ve been sharing and helping and giving to your connections for years, they’re more than happy to give back to you.