How to Improve Your Networking Skills as a Millennial

Networking isn't something that's taught, it's something that is learned through experience.

You can make all the field goals in practice, but what you do when the situation is real is what matters.

So how do you become a better networker? There are many ways to improve, but I'm only going to name a few.

Don't act starstruck.

If you have the chance to talk to someone that is very decorated or famous in your field, remember that they are a person too. Try to research something interesting about them and try connecting on that level. Maybe you share a mutual love for sports... or movies, or Jolly Ranchers. Anything will help the conversation.

Don't ask for a picture or an autograph.

If you're networking, your goal is being in the same industry as them. In theory, this person could become your colleague if you play all of your cards right.

At the end of the day, you have to think about what's more valuable... a picture that is frozen in time forever or a lasting relationship with that person. The latter could prove to be way more valuable.

Ask for advice.

Ask a question that makes them think.

You can already know the answer to the question, but they don't know that.

This shows that you are interested in what they've done and respect their experience.

Don't be that person that just talks about yourself and then hands them a business card.

That's not how it works.

Treat the conversation as if you're talking to a new friend. In new friendship, you ask questions that are not too shallow and not too deep. Talking to them like they are above you can lead to nervousness and rushing your words. Relax, remember your mission and don't waver.

The moment of truth

If you don't ask for the contact info... then why are you there? This is the most important part.

I'm not saying that this is a better way, but I've strayed away from bringing paper resumes. Instead I have switched to more digital methods and here's why.

1. It's easy to lose a paper resume, especially when that person probably gets a lot of them.

2. Leading them to a digital resume gives you a reason to follow up.

3. Your resume isn't the whole story, when you follow up you can highlight some interesting things about you. That way you can avoid overselling yourself in person.

Remember that networking is one of the most important parts about getting a job. Be easy and most importantly...

Be you.

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