Networking is an important part of most successful careers. While it may seem a bit dramatic, they’re not totally wrong when they say, “it’s all about who you know.” Building a network of peers and professionals in your given field is important as you begin to grow your career. Not only can these new connections give you a different perspective of the industry you’re in, but they can open your eyes to new opportunities, give you advice for moving forward, connect you with others in the field, and so much more.
But how do you network? Here are 6 do’s and don’ts of networking:
DO: Reach out to schedule meet-and-greets.
A meet-and-greet is not a job interview. It is a brief meeting with someone you want to get to know. He could have an interesting role you want to learn more about or she could be involved in an industry you want to explore. You can often find Disney professionals on LinkedIn or Rostr. You can also talk to your leader and coworkers – they’re a great place to start!
DON’T: Send cookie-cutter emails to everyone with whom you want to connect.
Make them personal. Do your research before you click send. Have you checked out her LinkedIn page? Are you from the same state? Do you admire a project he did? Use social media to your advantage, and find commonalities or nuggets of knowledge to make a personal connection.
DO: Go to meet-and-greets prepared – perhaps with a list of questions.
The people you meet with are taking time out of their day to help you out – don’t waste their time! As Scar says, “Be prepared.” Practice your questions at home. Write them down. You might not get a chance to ask them all, but at least you’ll have something to say when the conversation lulls. Additionally, focus on what you’d like to learn about the person you’re meeting. What is his day-to-day like? Where does she see herself in five years? Where does he see the industry heading? What advice would she give someone in your shoes? Don’t come in expecting them to interview you.
DON’T: Fail to send a thank you.
Again, if they’ve given up their time to speak with you, they’d like to know that their time was appreciated. It doesn’t matter how you do it (email, snail mail, etc.) so long as you do it. One resource available to Disney cast members can be found at recognition.disney.com. You simply type in their name, select something you appreciated about them during the meet-and-greet (from a list of 22 things), add a Walt Disney quote, and choose a “sentiment message” or type in your own. It’s a simple way to make a big impact!
DO: Dress professionally.
You don’t need to wear your Sunday best, but don’t show up in your shorts and flip flops. Business casual is a great start. If you wouldn’t wear it to Disney Traditions, please don’t wear it to a meet and greet. You want them to take you seriously, right? Right. Dress to impress!
DON’T: Forget to maintain your relationships.
This is probably the most important. You need to put the time and effort into maintaining the professional relationships you build. Having a car is great, but is it really to your benefit if you never drive it? Aim to meet up with them again anywhere from three-six months after the initial meet-and-greet. In the mean time, send them articles that relate to their line of work or when you accomplish something cool at work. Don’t send something every week, but every so often as things come up. It’s all about staying top of mind.
With these tips, you’ll be a networking fiend!