Understanding the essence of networking: Cheah

Building connections is not only important in career development but also to your well-being

Networking can be a scary thing to approach, especially without any guidance. Being able to express what one’s goals can prove to be a valuable asset in their career.

A struggle many people face is being able to introduce themselves and establish common grounds. With online platforms such as, LinkedIn, this task has gotten much easier. 

These social networking sites can be used as a training ground for building connections. 

Your mental health can be affected by their ability to build connections, since we tend to attribute being employed with “allowing us to live the life dream outside of work,” said Blair Smith, professor of marketing and digital media at George Brown College (GBC).

Given the role networking now plays in our personal and professional lives, it is important that we do it right.

“There is a way of positioning that message where you flatter the person first, and then ask for something after, instead of just making it about you,” said Smith.

Smith recently hosted a workshop at GBC focused on building stronger online and in-person connections, during which students got the chance to learn how to articulate what it is that they do. 

The end goal was to help the participants build a LinkedIn profile, so when they are confronted with a face to face interaction, they are better equipped to answer questions about their career-related goals.

According to Smith, LinkedIn requires a headline which allows you to narrow your goals and to not be caught up in over explanation. It prepares you to transfer this skill when answering the question in-person. 

“It’s just tricky for some people; to find yourself in something for a period of time,” said the GBC professor. For this reason, writing a LinkedIn headline can be a big step for some.

Knowing who you are, what you do, and being confident in publishing that on a website like LinkedIn may sound intimidating.

“It’s not necessarily  what you’re going to do in 20 years, it’s just what that next step is and we’re always changing,” said Smith.

Practicing with friends and even strangers can help build the confidence to make those new connections in one’s career.

Specifying as concisely as possible what one’s career goals are, can lead to securing opportunities within their field. It can also help them meet people with like-minded goals.

So when you are feeling the anxiety of answering ‘what do you do?’ in an interview, for example, it is important not to feel the need to have your whole life planned out. That is too much pressure to hold on to.

What really matters is that you focus on what you enjoy doing and the things you are good at. 

If one can stick to those themes with practice—whether they decide to reach out to people over LinkedIn or in person—building connections will become a much easier task to approach.

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Understanding the essence of networking: Cheah