Intern Talk: Forget Networking and Start Creating Relationships

Who you know is a key factor in a successful job search. We know this due to the immense amount of professional development content that circulates the internet. The majority of articles and blog posts discuss the dos-and-don’ts of networking and ways to expand a professional network, among other topics. Research also shows that up to 80 percent of the available jobs are never advertised; instead, those jobs are filled by referral. A network of supportive professionals is important, but too often, students think about networking in terms of “what we can get” when it should be about creating relationships.

Focus on what you can give to others, not what you want from them.

Photo courtesy of ashraful kadir
Photo courtesy of ashraful kadir

Find people you can collaborate with. Find people with similar interests. Find people you can learn from. Find people you’d like to work with in the future. Find a new friend. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Change your attitude
People can easily detect disingenuous behavior. When you start thinking about getting to know someone, rather than simply trying to get something out of him or her, the attitude change is apparent and your conversation is more likely to result in a good professional connection.

Listen more than you speak
Listening makes people feel cared for, because you’re allowing them share what is important to them. It’s also a great opportunity for you to learn something new. Listening gives you the opportunity to ask good questions and steer the conversation away from yourself.

Follow-up with smart ideas and content
The last thing people want after a positive conversation is for the person following up to immediately request a favor (unless encouraged). Instead, use what you learned in the conversation with that person in the follow up. Did he or she express their love for a certain sports team or music group? Did he or she have a certain interest in architecture, history or another topic? Show that you listened to them by continuing that conversation.

Why is creating relationships so important? People are more likely to advocate for those who they genuinely know and trust, and good advocates are essential while job searching. Make sure to build positive relationships now, so that down the road you’ll have a network of enthusiastic advocates.

What do you do to ensure that you are establishing meaningful connections with others?

“Intern Talk” is a monthly guest column produced by Ellie Boggs, vice president of career services. The column covers various aspects of the public relations industry, giving PRSSA members the tools to secure internships and make the most of their professional experiences. For more career resources, visit the PRSSA Career Manual and Internship Center.

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