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Networking in College – 6 Tips For Networking Success

Networking in College – 6 Tips For Networking Success

Networking in college is one of the most important things a person can do to ensure success. Many students don’t realize the necessity of networking in college. Some simply aren’t confident enough to enact a networking strategy. Others don’t consider networking to be an important part of creating future success.

But networking isn’t just helpful for a successful life, it’s necessary. In this age of connectivity no employer wants to, or needs to, risk hiring an unknown individual. Networking helps you to form relationships so future employers will see you as a friend instead of as a risk.

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Here are a 6 tips to help any college student kick-start their lives with networking.

Network With Your Career Goals in Mind

The career you want to pursue will influence the course your networking should take. For example, if you decide that you want to spend your life writing for National Geographic, then it’s important that you focus on building relationships with individuals in the journalism community. You want to connect especially to those people at National Geographic. If you want to be a famous chef, then befriending writers at National Geographic would be a waste of time! Set career goals to give your networking direction.

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Admit You’re A Student

When you start networking, don’t hide the fact you’re still in college. Being a student gets you in the door more easily. People in the business you plan to pursue are more likely to help a college student out because you being in college means you won’t be looking for a job. Don’t hide that you’re a student; start any networking attempt by admitting that you’re still in college. It will open more doors for you.

Get off Campus

College campuses are great places to meet new friends, hear guest speakers, and enjoy the college experience. But when it comes to networking, it’s better to get off campus. Email individuals in your desired field and arrange a phone call. Use this to start friendships with individuals that can help you gain a better understanding of the field you’ll be entering. Also, saving up to attend conferences that are held in your area will enable you to meet and befriend even more people that can help you move towards future success.

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Use Your Current Contacts

Most people’s early experiences in networking start with their friends, families, and the families of their peers. College is a great opportunity to use these connections to broaden your network even further. You may be shocked to hear that the guy you eat pizza with down the hall has a dad who works in marketing. If you want to go into marketing ask your friend for an introduction. Start asking people you already know if they know anyone in the field you want to pursue. Then ask for an introduction.

Give Before Expecting To Get

Giving value helps build a relationship’s strength far more than asking for something does. It helps to hear every problem someone you’re close to has as an opportunity to offer a solution. The more you network, the more solutions you can offer, and the stronger all of your relationships can become. You can connect your friend who’s struggling with algebra with your friend who tutors algebra and both of your friendships will become even stronger. Always offer value. Then, when you need help with your network, the people you know will be more willing to lend you a hand.

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Get an Internship

Finally, no article on how to network in college would be complete without acknowledging the networking power that interning has to offer. Interning not only builds a portfolio and a reputation in the field you’re interested in, you also forge tons of one-on-one relationships at the same time! No amount of cold-calling and job shadowing can do what an internship can, and it’s never easier to intern than when you’re enrolled in college.

Use these tips to get your networking kick-started. There is no substitute for networking in college. Nothing will jump-start your career faster, and no skill will be more beneficial to you throughout life. There’s simply no way to overstate the importance of networking and starting at it as soon as possible.

What about you? What sort of opportunities has networking in college opened up for you? What sort of advice would you offer to other young networkers and what sort of mistakes would you warn against?

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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