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The Introvert's Guide to Networking

From Shy Student to Networking Pro: Transform Your Career with These Proven Tips

This is such a common question I get.

How do I network? I don’t have anything to offer. I’m a student.

I can understand why you would want to network. Most of my opportunities, money, ideas, and jobs have come from my network. Building this up increases your surface area for success in a very big way.

“But how!?” you might be asking.

Don’t worry, I was once someone who had no network and stood in the dark corner, sipping my gin and tonic.

and now…

My network has hundreds of people who are willing to lend me a hand, send me opportunities, and are keen to chat with me.

I still sit in the corner, sipping on a drink. Some things never change.

I can attribute this to six main things, and I'll teach you these secrets for a small fee.

That fee is what you actually try something in this newsletter!

I see you there, reading; there might be 50,000+ of you, but I’m talking to you!

Don’t let this be another email you read and never act on. Let’s make a pact together! Okay, now that we have a deal, let’s get to it.

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1 Show Up

Let me start this with a story.

I received an invitation to tour an engineering company's site.

About 30 of us were there. I was the only first-year student. Everyone else was in 4th or 5th year and looking for jobs. I only managed to slide in a spot because I attended all the society meetings. I helped with setup and became friends with the 5th year student who'd organised the tour.

When people say "oh, you were there at the right place and right time - it's luck," they are not wrong.

However, you can control one part of that equation. Be at the right place.

Showing up a lot means you’re more likely to be there at the right time.

Showing up, helping out - all those things create goodwill and will make people want to help you. It's not because you asked, but because they have a desire to do so.

So many amazing things have happened to me because I showed up. Job opportunities, investments, and much more.

2 Network when you don’t need to

Let’s continue the story. So I was at the site tour and the organiser told me that the company planned to hire 2 interns from this site tour.

“I’m going to enjoy myself and learn what I can. I have no chance against all these older folks," I told myself and the event's organiser.

He smiled and said, "Hey, you never know, right? I selected you for this event in the first place, and you have a real shot."

I thanked him, but didn’t take his words to heart. He was being nice, after all.

The tour began, and I started chatting with other students; I became friends with a lot of them. One guy stood out as very smart. He knew everything about the company and industry. He had already had five years of education.

I muttered, "Damn, that guy is definitely going to get selected." I thought I could learn from him. So, I went up to him and gushed over his knowledge. I asked him how he learned everything.

But here’s what I didn’t realise. He was giving off his aura of desperation. I’ve now come to call it the “Sweat of Desperation".

When you’re desperate and trying to get something to happen at an event or conversation - it shows. Everyone can tell you want something and it’s off-putting.

But I found I was getting along with the guides and company workers much better than anyone else. This was because I was the only one there to see and learn. Everyone else wanted that internship.

I understand that you may need something to happen. It may be a privilege to be able to say no. You’re right - I had the luxury of time since I had 4 more years left to study. But, if you change your mindset and focus on helping people, you will enjoy the experience. This will make you much more attractive to employers.

This is why you should network and build connections when you don’t need to. Start earlier. If you need to fundraise in six months, start now! If you want to swap jobs in six months, start talking to people now. If you've started studying, start early in your networking.

3 Ask Great Questions

If you want a better answer, you should ask a better question. It’s something I’ve made a life lesson of mine.

Questions are powerful. But most people think they need to sound smart and impress others. They think they need to have amazing, eloquent answers. I disagree.

I often find the most intelligent and high-performing people ask amazing questions. They don't always have amazing answers. They're inquisitive and know how to get to the heart of the issue.

This is especially true if you’re early in your career. You don’t have any answers. Well, this is even more powerful for you. Okay, let me finally finish this story for you. I’m at the site tour, I’m making a decent impression during the first half of the day and during lunch.

During the second half, we went into a lab. The engineer leading us introduces us to one of the lab technicians. Most of the people are trying to ingratiate themselves with the engineer, but I’m curious about the lab. So, I’m peppering the lab technician with questions. Some are not intelligent at all, but for my own curiosity.

As we continue, the organiser taps me on the shoulder and says, “Those were some great questions. How did you know about that stuff?”

"I also study physics, early days, but I'm interested in the X-ray stuff."

Then we're all ushered into a room where they announce who they'd like to stay behind for an interview.

He brought in the technician and introduced him as the global lead for sensors. He will be the one interviewing you. I noticed a few of the other students scowling - I’m guessing they thought they'd wooed the wrong person now.

They went through about six names. These included the smart fifth-year student I told you guys about. The final name was my own.

"See, I told you - you'll have a chance! Good luck in the interview."

To cut a long story short, I performed well in the interview and the company hired me the next day. (This was one of the top 10 happiest moments of my life - landing my first "real" job.

Asking great questions can change your life!

I’d love for you to tell me any stories you’ve had with networking - good or bad! Happy to give my 2 cents on how you could change it up!

Let me know if you enjoyed this as I'll only release part 2 if you guys want it!



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