Networking, whether formally or informally, is a common form of interaction in every part of the world. However, different cultures have different styles of networking that you must learn the nuances of in order to be successful at it. In the US, there are little specific etiquettes to networking and it should be approached more strategically. Here’s everything you need to know about networking in the US!
What is networking?
Networking is a type of interaction or action, in which you exchange information and experiences with another individual, group, or entity in order to develop professional relationships and connections.
Why should you network?
Networking is particularly helpful for finding suitable jobs or making yourself (and your business, if you have one) known within the industry and community that you want to be a part of. It is one of the best ways to build professional relationships with other people within the same field.
How to network
One of the most popular ways to connect with people nowadays is through online applications, such as LinkedIn. You can go on the app and find people from a particular company, industry, or educational background to connect with. It is one of the easiest ways to network with people who may not be in the same area as you.
If you are particularly interested in someone’s experiences then you should reach out to them via email or direct messaging for a “coffee chat,” which is basically an informal meeting or interview specifically about their career and experiences. aAfter introducing yourself, you can schedule a meet in-person or virtually through Zoom or Google Meet.
There are in-person networking events that you can go to or you can also talk more in-depth with people that you already know in your industry. They can be from your school, class, or even a friend of a friend. To learn more about them in a professional way, you can ask the person to grab coffee.
Here are some things that you should always keep in mind while networking:
Reaching out to professionals
A good rule of thumb to remember when reaching out to professionals is that you should always be respectful, regardless of the circumstances and outcomes. You can email or direct message a professional via LinkedIn with a coffee chat request. While doing this, you should ask the individual for their preferred date as well as time and never assume their availability, but instead offer to be flexible with your schedule in order to meet with them. If they decline your request for a coffee chat then you should be respectful of their decision and thank them for their time.
While coffee chatting
Once a professional has accepted your invitation for a coffee chat, you should send over a Google Calendar invite for the event as soon as you can so that no one forgets about the scheduled chat. You should also remember to send a confirmation email with the exact date, time, and location a day before the coffee chat as an additional reminder.
During the actual coffee chat, you should follow common etiquettes—not talking over the other person, not fidgeting while talking, making proper eye contact, and not drinking your drink too fast or aggressively (if you are actually meeting at a coffee shop in person). The goal is to have a good conversation with the person, so try your best to fluidly move through various conversation topics.
After the coffee chat
After the coffee chat, you should send the professional a thank you email. This should include a general thank you message and some specifics of what you discussed together, so that they can always remember the significance of your coffee chat.
Networking can be difficult and tiring at times, so make sure that you give yourself a break whenever necessary so that you can come back even stronger. Never give up in your networking journey as you never know what connections will come in handy in the future.