The prospect of having to network as an intern can be terror-inducing. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. With the following tips in mind, you’ll be a top-rate networker in no time!
Introduce yourself to those around you
Most modern offices are open plan, which can be a little confusing for newbies. Just how much – and how far – must you mingle? Luckily, you don’t have to introduce yourself to every person on the floor. Just start with your team, crucial management individuals, and the people at your neighbouring desks – you’ll have plenty of time to get to know everyone else. Smile and introduce yourself with confidence on your first day.
Remember that first impressions matter. For some of your colleagues, an over-pepped intern probably won’t rub them up the right way. You’ve got to strike a careful balance between friendliness and professionalism. Your ability to read others’ faces should enable you to tell who you can get closer to after the initial ‘hi’, and who prefers to be left alone.
Set clear goals for your networking efforts
Chances are that there’s a particular area or job within the company that you’re most interested in. You’ll want to clearly define at the start of your internship the specific people or group of people you’d most like to meet.
After you’ve determined who they are, make it a professional goal to invite them for a coffee when the time is right. You shouldn’t be scared to do this! Most people will be flattered that they’ve been asked to talk about their work with an interested party and will be eager to take up a mentoring role. And here’s a hint: it’s not always the people in the top positions who will be the most helpful to you, or even the most skilled.
Be proactive, and communicate
As an intern, it can be a real temptation to try to do everything yourself to impress your boss with your self-sufficiency. But the truth? There’s nothing more frustrating for an employer than an intern who doesn’t ask questions and messes up their given task as a result.
Being proactive doesn’t just mean asking questions which will allow you to better understand your work. It also means actively offering to help out where you can. For example, you might offer to take a load off a stressed desk mate, or extend your manager an extra pair of hands on a new project. Going above and beyond your internship brief in this manner will truly impress the VIPs within your company.
Get involved in events
While you’re interning, you might as well take advantage of, and get directly involved in, the events that your company puts on. Is there a certain stakeholder day that’s happening during your work experience? Don’t pass up the opportunity to attend. Better yet, is there an opening to help plan a major event or conference like this? Then put your hat in the ring. You’ll be able to expand your network beyond the company’s internal workforce – and all those vendors, clients, and partners could prove very useful to you in the future.
Want to know what will impress people most? What will gain you the biggest network of impressed parties to call on as referees? Hard work, pure and simple. Don’t find yourself networking to the extent that your workload gets away from you. Stay off the social media at work, too!
I’m Harper, a curious freelance creative writer from Auckland, New Zealand. I was admittedly shy as a teen, always content to watch from the sidelines, keeping my thoughts inside. Then came the opportunity to backpack across Asia, and I discovered the fun of describing my adventures in writing. I still enjoy quiet moments now, but also have a huge appreciation for meaningful connections and lasting relationships. You can find out more about me on my blog
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