Born with cellular phones in their hands, Generation Z (or Gen Z) also known as Zoomers; have always walked parallel to technological advancements at each step. With the advent of social media and newer cybernetics, networking has become more accessible and more broadly scoped.
As the young generation is all set to enter the pandemic-struck workforce, the pressure on them to excel in their new roles is at an all-time high. In order to survive and thrive in this highly dynamic world, they need to revamp their social networking methods.
The right mix of online and offline networking is something that will give Gen Z an edge over others. The generations’ familiarity with technology and social media already works in their favor, but it isn’t everything. For one’s career to grow, it’s important to know all the tools in order to exploit them at the right time.
Why Networking? Why It’s Important?
Did you know that almost 85% of all jobs are filled through networking?
Networking is essentially required to surround oneself with the right set of people. These will be the connections that will either land you in an even better position or sail you out of a professional mess or take you to a safer coast. Moreover, when you will cross the threshold of student life, these will be the people who will be possibly influencing and shaping you. Hence, it’s extremely important to carefully understand and implement the networking process.
Below are a few tips and best practices that will help you build networks and foster connections
Connect with people from your industry: In social networking, connecting with the right people at the right time is the key. On various social media platforms, there are several groups that keep posting relevant content. Join these virtual clubs of your interest and start interacting on platforms like Meetup, Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
Don’t hesitate to express your ideas: Whether you agree or disagree, just say it. After subscribing to these groups, remain active by sharing your thoughts. No one will offer opportunities to the silent spectators. You need to keep your engagement alive constantly. If you wish to appreciate, debate, or add a few points to a discussion, never hold yourself back. Allow your thoughts to flow, given you state them with logic and decency.
Choose your medium wisely: While Gen Z might be handling numerous social media, others might have kept their social media limited. If you happen to connect with a senior, it’s advisable to stay connected with them over simpler messaging apps, like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Since their interface is less complex, they are likely to stay active there. If you happen to be in the same city, ask for an office appointment.
Also, it’s good to channelize your engagement with the right people depending upon the industry. If photography is your field then there is no point keeping engagement high at LinkedIn. The best place to grab their attention is – Instagram. Share their work, tag them, and if their DM (direct message) is open, then drop a text. It is equally important to understand the sensitivity of the medium and the audience before planning your interactions. For instance, Facebook and Instagram are generally considered to be more personal and intimate platforms for individuals whereas Meetup or LinkedIn are meant for more professional engagements.
What’s in it for THEM: Networking is a two-way street. Long-term relations happen when the other person also sees benefit in staying in touch with you. Since you are a fresher, there isn’t much to offer, except for one thing, i.e. talent. Keep posting your initiative and work. Share ideas that show your potential. A unique skill set and talent will work as a magnet. It will attract opportunities and great connections. Everyone wants to collaborate with skillful people.
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou
Meet in real: While signing up for virtual groups is important, it’s also crucial to meet for real. If your office has resumed post-pandemic, then the traditional method of introducing oneself at a workplace and going out for coffee works out best. But, is it enough? To expand your network, don’t shy out to meet friends of friends. Go all out while building a rapport. Needless to say, as a college student, know all your colleagues. At the end of the day, all the fishes in the swarm would be in the same industry, and maybe someday they could get you a job or simply even a cozy ride home.
Maintain your own portfolio: Apart from meeting people on a third-party platform, it’s essential to keep the discussions alive on things that you own. Blogging and Vlogging are good examples of it. When you make something related to your industry, it will attract people from the genre. People, who are interested in the field, would love to make connections with you. The skill-set that you are expressing through your portfolio will help you make meaningful relations.
LinkedIn did wonders for Avkash Shah, a 3D graphic designer who put out a creative video to apply for his dream job in CRED.
Similarly, if your work profile requires a portfolio, work yourself off to make a website for yourself. The Internet is a vast place, and your chunk of information may hold some value for someone who might want to connect with you professionally.
Find the balance: Remember, connections can’t be long-term without a personal touch. While meeting people, online or offline, try to not drag professional set-up for long. Look for the right opportunity and try to understand the person behind the designation. Get to know their likes and dislikes. The base of a successful relationship is interpersonal communication. Hence, a perfect balance of professional and personal talk is needed to make forever relations, with the right people.
REMINDER: Be the Tortoise, Not the Hare
Hares often fail to succeed because they haven’t built up enough rapport with their social connections. Whereas tortoises are the people who offer value and make slow, trustworthy connections before they see a return on their investment. Hares are those who go all-in like a straight arrow and ask for a business opportunity upfront which doesn’t work well in most cases.
Here are a few ideas:
- Introduce a little humor into your conversations.
- Send private messages complimenting them on their new content.
- Spend time liking their content and commenting on their posts.
- Call or video chat and get to know their interests / hobbies.
- Read more on how to build trust.
Which one are you? The tortoise or the hare?
Do you want to master the art of networking like a pro? Can it help you to take control of your career, find a job, or grow your business? Try this course on Effective Networking by Google