Whether you’re a new alum of FGCU or working as a lifeguard between semesters, the summer is a great time to use your newly available time to increase your network! Here are a few tips to grow your network and improve your skills in professionalism:
1. Get involved! Volunteer for a local charity or social event; join a local young professionals organization; or attend a professional development event in your area. You can find service learning opportunities local to SW Florida in the FGCU Service-Learning Database: http://www.fgcu.edu/Connect/search.html. If you’re a new alum in the area, consider joining the Bonita Springs Young Professionals group – they’re a partner to the FGCU Alumni Association!
2. Introduce yourself. Talk to new people, interact with your friends’ parents and families, engage with the customers in line at Publix – you never know who’s connected to your dream job.
3. Learn to talk about yourself. What are your strengths? What about your career goals? What have you accomplished in your academics, student organizations or community involvement? If you can communicate these easily to others, you’ll greater your chances of an opportunity arising from your networking efforts.
4. Learn to listen. Knowing what to say about yourself is important. But being able to make others feel heard gets them excited about interacting with you. Ask questions of those you meet: what do they do? How did they get there? When they answer, listen and show your interest. When you meet somebody interesting, ask for a business card or a contact method. Keep the conversation going beyond your first interaction! This is networking.
5. Follow-up. Make a folder or padfolio with all of your gathered contacts and create a schedule of when to follow up with each. This can be tricky and involves some time management, but it is the key to successful networking. Follow-up with tidbits of information based on the initial conversation. Remember to ask them how they are doing.
Use these basics of networking throughout summer 2015 and beyond to ensure your professional network is booming by the time you’re ready to make your next career move.