In the last Career Guru post, Why Networking Is Simple But Not Easy, I responded to a college student who felt discouraged about building a professional network. In addition to the suggestions I gave in that post (mind over matter, and getting outside the comfort zone) one of the students from Career Boot camp shared her networking experience:
I wanted to share with you a networking opportunity I stumbled across while at a graduation party with my husband last night. I was talking to the "bartender" in the adult section of the party. Turns out, he was an anesthesiologist at Carroll County Hospital! He asked me about nursing school and why I wanted to be a nurse. He was very encouraging. He then offered me (I didn't ask!) the opportunity to follow him around the OR for a day. My eyes were bugging out of my head in excitement as I enthusiastically said yes. I got his email on the spot and have already followed up this morning with a thank you, a confirmation of the offer, and a request to do this in the next month. Talk about networking! And all because I told him, the bartender, "No thanks, I don't drink. Besides, I have to write a paper this weekend." That was the conversation starter. How cool it that!?!
It is cool and this is one of many examples of how you can run across people every day who can and will help you. A few things this nursing student did right:
1. She was out and about -- open to meeting people. Get your game face on, wear a smile, stick out your hand and make your own introduction.
2. She started the conversation and shared her passion for nursing.
3. She listened and learned about the bartender's life.
4. She registered gratitude and enthusiasm ... and followed up immediately.
Most important, she knows her worth and is ready for success. She didn't hesitate to make a friend, and now she has a connection. Networking starts with getting out and about. Put down the remote, the tablet, the book, the phone, and go shake some hands!