Sometimes, I get the feeling that “intern” has some negative connotation because of the horror stories of getting coffee, making copies or other mundane tasks. Luckily, most internships now are all about exposure, experience and learning new skills.
Whether you’re a college student or seeking a new career, networking is great for building connections with people outside of your current work circle and friend group. (Fun fact: networking helped lead to my internship at Flint Group!)
These connections could serve you later for job opportunities, fresh ideas, partnerships within your community, building confidence and so much more.
Spend 5-10 minutes per day networking online
LinkedIn is one of the most common networking sites out there. Spending time every day reposting relevant content gets you involved in conversations and makes you more well-versed in your field.
You will also grow your network by finding and connecting with people you know personally or professionally. Establishing this professional connection makes it easier to connect with them personally, making it more natural to go back to them as a resource.
By growing your network and keeping your LinkedIn profile current, you open yourself up to more opportunities for future jobs and experiences. Keeping your profile up to date and promoting your skills makes you more appealing to everyone, especially recruiters and future employers.
Start small (talk)
Making small talk is a great way to grow your network within your office. My favorite is offering a genuine compliment. This is a great icebreaker and will lead people to talk more about themselves – which everyone loves doing.
However, if a compliment isn’t your route, simply start with “hello” or introduce yourself to get the conversation flowing. Starting a conversation finds common interests, which leads to more genuine relationships and a more memorable impression. If there is someone you know will be at an event, doing some research to find common interests can decrease some of the nerves and awkward feelings you may have.
Join organizations within organizations
Most companies have some sort of culture engagement club to head culture events. Joining will not only bring joy to you and your coworkers, but will help establish closer relationships more than sitting at your desk all day.
If your company doesn’t have anything like that – start it! Something as simple as a kickball night at a local park, March Madness bracket or an activity that is enjoyable will engage more and more people. (Plus: This will also make working with your coworkers more enjoyable and productive.) Research shows that groups that do relational-oriented activities make them even better in task-oriented obstacles.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to get involved in the community and meet new people. It also serves as a resume booster, and employers love seeing that you’re passionate about giving back.
You don’t need to talk to everyone
Overwhelming yourself by talking to as many people at an event won’t get you very far. When you force yourself to talk to as many people as possible, you don’t leave lasting impressions and it can be more difficult to keep in contact with someone.
One or two strong contacts will go further than ten basic connections. Work to establish a true relationship with someone instead of, “I met them once at a conference,” or, worse: forgetting them altogether. By focusing on a few people and making genuine connections, you’ll be more comfortable approaching them in another scenario.
After all, you won’t be an intern forever.