I know for many students, spring break still seems like it’s far off. Midterms, papers, and long nights at the library seem to be what’s filling our time at the moment. It’s probably pretty hard to picture the week of relief that will soon be upon us. But guess what?! It’s closer than you think!
Many of us will leave campus for the week and enjoy a relaxing week at home, on campus, or even in an exotic destination. Believe it or not, spring break can be a great chance to keep building a network! Now I know that it’s hard to think about that when you just want to have fun, and it even seems a bit scheming to consider networking in a setting that’s not really designed for it, but every encounter you have with someone new is a chance to add another resource to your network. Here are the top 3 things to remember about “networking” and how they translate to conversations outside a more formal setting:
1) Networking is simply building relationships.
Just using the term “networking” gives the activity a certain type of connotation. But when you just get down to the heart of what’s happening, all you are doing is forming a relationship. Don’t be intimidated by the setting or the person, just learn something new and walk away with a new contact!
2) Find Common Ground
In a more formal networking setting, that common ground is usually the industry or career that the person works in and you’d like to get into to. That still applies in less formal settings, but so does everything else. And I do mean everything! Movies, TV, sports, fashion, books…you name it! Some of my most powerful networking experiences have been because we bonded over something other than “work.” Living in LA at one point, I had a conversation about beach volleyball with a friend of a friend. Three months later, I’m having lunch with Jake Gyllenhaal talking about a script he was considering. True story! And all because I was a half way decent setter on the court! You just never know where conversations might lead.
3) The other person is getting just as much out of it as you are
No matter how old, experienced, or educated you are…you have something to teach others. You should never feel intimidated or scared because you aren’t in the position of power. The person you’re talking to can most certainly learn something from their discussion with you. Now don’t let that go to your head and let it influence your humble demeanor, but keep it in mind during a conversation. Your contribution is just as important as theirs.
So if you’re flying to your exotic spring break, taking a trip to the Big East Tournament, or just hanging around campus…make the most of those random conversations!