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11 Ways to Build a Strong Network

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

“Pulling a good network together takes effort, sincerity and time.” Alan Collins

Today, Wake County Public School's Career Academies, hosted an Internship Summit, with juniors from across the entire academy system. Business partners and former academy students, now in the workforce, came together today to help diminish fears, provide guidance and tips to prepare juniors secure an internship.

The event provided 4- 40 minute sessions covering, workplace ethics, making an impression, getting connected and ask the experts. The insights and candid conversations among panelists & later in round table discussions yielded some valuable tips. Such as?

  1. It's never too soon to start building your network. Start simple. Establish your LinkedIn profile. Connect with friends, teachers and family. Ask those connections to make connections for you through digital introductions and in person. Connect to individuals in company's or industries that align with your interests.

  2. Start building a character profile through recommendations. Your friends, teachers, coaches, family and part-time employers can speak to your skill sets; making you stand out to potential employers.

  3. Are you introverted & terrified of interviewing? You are not alone. Introverts on the panel suggested practice. Ask questions & make conversation with family friends, coaches & teachers. To help you build your confidence, consider practicing through mock interviews within your new found network! Gain confidence, secure feedback and learn different styles of interviewers using this process.

  4. Clean up your social media- don't post what you wouldn't want plaster on a billboard with your face.

  5. Be bold! The answer is always no if you don't ask. If you want to work at a company, consider sending your resume and cover letter through email to a key decision maker or reach out on LinkedIn to inquire if they are hiring.

  6. Sometimes landing an internship is timing & luck. Busy people are, well busy. Your email, letter or LinkedIn message might get buried instead of opened. Be persistent and follow up. Keep in mind a company might not be hiring right now- the timing may be off. People want to help. If you are not a fit or they don't have an opening, they may have a suggestion for a different place to apply or be willing to make a connection for you.

  7. Try not to take rejection personally. Rarely does an internship land in your lap. Rejection is normal. Consider it practice for the right opportunity.

  8. Realize securing an internship is a bit like dating. It's finding the right fit by the hosting company and the intern. Do you want to spend 8 hours with that employer, doing that type of work? Conversely, the employer is asking questions to determine if you are the best fit for their team too!

  9. Be observant. What's the environment like? The way employees dress or the interaction among their team will be clue's to the work environment. Spoiler alert, if it's an open format, your soft skills may be tested daily.

  10. How can you set yourself apart? The you beyond your resume. Don't underestimate the power of the cover letter. Who are you? When asked- tell us about yourself, provide answers that help form connections. Do you have pets or love fishing at the beach, collecting baseball cards or even making cookies? You are likely to make a connection. An interviewer might respond, I love to fish too, what have you caught? I love cookies too- what's your favorite? Mine is Oatmeal Raisin. ( Don't hate ) Connecting on common ground puts everyone at ease. Another approach might be to ask an interviewer what they like about their job or why they went into that industry. Sometimes removing the jitters is as simple as saying- I'm nervous! This is my first real interview. They already know you are a student.

  11. It's an internship, not the rest of your life! Extract the value. Did you learn you like a small setting over a large company? Do you want more or less structure? Are you comfortable at a computer station all day? Do you thrive when you can collaborate on a project?

Basically the theme of the day was don't be intimidated to establish a network. Get out of your comfort zone and get started today! Besides, your never too old or too experienced to make new connections. Events like today refresh our way of thinking and approaching shared challenges and provide opportunities to form connections.

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