Most vacancies never make it to newspapers or the internet. They are filled in a very traditional way. Through the connections between people. By networking, you open up the possibility to find your dream job via your connections. I know now that my notion of networking was incorrect all along. And I’ve learned that there’s a huge number of students with the same misconception about networking. Does your image of networking match the description in the paragraph below? Then it’s time to change that.
Networking describes the forced and slightly awkward conversations at business conventions. Networking is desperately taking a shot when, for a moment, that one important person has no one to talk to. And networking is trying to come across as smart and ‘fun’, followed by an exchange of business cards, hoping for the chance of a lifetime.
Without knowing it, you’ve already started networking. Networking can be defined as nothing else than communicating with others. By doing so, people will learn what your talents are, and what you’d like to do in the future. Networking is giving a clear explanation of who you are.
Make sure that you’re able to put your talents and career hopes for the future into words. You probably won’t be able to come up with a proper summary of these things during a conversation. It’s something that you will have to think about right now, and that you’ll use in conversations later on. Within your field of study, you’re most likely able to describe these things using jargon. Outside that field of study, that jargon is meaningless. You’ll have to use a different wording when talking to an acquaintance, which is the hardest part.
That conversation with an acquaintance is a greating starting point. Networking is drinking coffee and having a great conversation about the future. It’s about grabbing your chance when it’s there. You’ll be amazed by the number of valuable connections that your family, friends, and acquaintances have. They might just lead you to something great.
You’re contacts are of great value because they could be the bridge between you and someone that is able to offer you your dream job. Of course, you could just call an interesting company and introduce yourself, but making good use of your contacts will leave you with a far greater chance of success. Ask your acquaintance to make a request. You’re interested in having a chat with a specific person from that interesting company, beause you’d like to know more about what he or she does. That person is more willing to say ‘yes’ when the request is made by someone he or she knows.
A network conversation should always be based on the hope to get to know each other, to converse about your shared interest, and to explain what your skills and talents are. It’s never a job interview. It’s a conversation that will make the right people think of you when they’re in need of a new employee. Perhaps we shouldn’t call this networking, because it’s high time to let go of the negative associations.
Prof. Moniek Tromp has been appointed Captain of Science of the Chemistry Top Sector by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. As from 1 July 2023, she succeeded Prof. Bert Weckhuysen from Utrecht University.
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Harish Vedantham and Casper van der Kooi have been nominated by New Scientist for Wetenschapstalent 2023 (Science Talent 2023). This election is meant to give young scientists and their research a stage.
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