How to Network When You Don’t Know What You Want to Do: Guest Post by Connie Wong, Co-Founder of Lynxsy

Highlighting our recent webinar, How to Network When You Don’t know What You Want to Do

“Networking” has become one of those ubiquitous buzzwords, so overused that people start forgetting it actually ever had any meaning at all. In a basic sense it’s talking on a professional level with people who could possibly help you achieve your long-term career goals. But if having a concrete idea of your future is a prerequisite for networking, what do you do if you just don’t know yet?

Luckily, Career Happiness Coach Anna Graham Hunter helped us crack the code on networking, helping to show that you don’t need to have it all figured out to start forming professional connections. In fact, it’s probably better to start from a more open-minded perspective.

The first step is figuring out what you want to do with your life in more abstract terms. Easier said than done in a world where people in their 30s and 40s are still figuring out what they want to be when they grow up. However, all it takes is a little self-reflection.

In order to discover the general direction you’d like your career to go, ask yourself these three questions:

1)      When have you felt most alive at work and what were you doing?

2)      Which colleagues have brought out the best in you?

3)      In which environment have you been most productive?

Don’t jump to the easy answers. Look within. What you discover about yourself and what you thought about your career may surprise you.

Anna then advises you to use these answers to formulate a “What Do You Want to Do?” Statement. This basically serves as a way to introduce your career aspirations when the answer is still more of a general idea.

To make it easier, here’s the MADLIB-style format:

“After several years of [highlight what you’ve accomplished and learned] I’m now exploring opportunities that will allow me to [describe tasks, people, and environments that comprise your goals in an abstract sense].”

Once you have your statement down, it’s time to start thinking about who you’d like to reach out to. When first establishing a connection, Anna recommends you reach out via e-mail where you should:

1)      Introduce yourself.

2)      Explain your intention (which is to learn more about the recipient’s industry, career history, or current role).

3)      Ask if he/she would be free for a 20 minute call and provide a variety of times when you would be free.

When you finally get on the phone with someone, it’s your job to lead the conversation:

1)      Ask if it’s still a good time to talk.

2)      Thank the person for taking the time to speak.

3)      State your intention.

4)      Use the “What Do You Want to Do” statement.

5)      Ask your first question!

Each person you’re talking to is going to have a different background, career history, and style of advice. Go into the call with the intention of learning. Even if you’re very interested in a particular person’s company, don’t ask him directly about open roles. Instead, you should be confident that if you effectively expressed your strengths and motivations, and a position happens to open up, the person will bring it up to YOU. In this way you’re making yourself the perused candidate rather than the one desperately grasping at jobs.

Finally, Anna recommends at the end of each call asking each and every person, “Who else should I talk to?” This question is the most important step because it’s the fastest most direct way to be introduced to new people who can help you grow in your career. Before you know it you’ll have grown your professional network and you’ll be at the top of people’s minds when that right job eventually opens up.

This post only scratches the surface, though! Check out the full webinar here to learn the complete ins and outs of networking. By the end you’ll have the confidence to build lasting professional connections, even if you’re not exactly sure where you want your career to wind up (and to be honest who is?).

Speaking of which, coming in on the ground floor at a startup is a great way to gain valuable experience in the workforce and can help you figure out what you want to do long-term. Head over to Lynxsy to discover what roles the startup world has to offer!

 

Connie Wong is the Co-Founder of Lynxsy, an organization that strives to match recent grads with non-technical roles at high growth startups. Lynxsy is building a talent marketplace that puts the individuality back into job hiring and searching. They believe that finding the right match takes more than just an interview (it’s kind of like dating) which is why Lynxsy provides a trial period where companies and candidates can get to know each other better before a long-term commitment.

Their vision is to provide a platform that’s not just job-seeking, but career making. A place where startups can find the best junior talent to build the best possible teams, and where recent graduates can get their foot in the door at the best companies to launch their careers. Learn more at http://www.lynxsy.com

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Meet Latazia, Future Educator and Inspirer

This fall, the University launched “Georgetown Stories,” a multi-media, first-person, “vlog” (video blog) that will follow 11 undergraduate students throughout the academic year as their Georgetown stories unfold.  Each student’s story will be told through a series of videos, still photography, emails and social media posts with the goal of more intimately connecting everyone in the Georgetown community (both on and off of the Hilltop).  In a series of blog posts this year, ACS student intern Khadijah M. Davis (N’15) will be sharing these stories through the Alumni Career Services lens.

“I believed it was possible to do, so I did it”

Latazia Carter (C’17) is a Government and Justice and Peace Studies double-major from Nashville, Tenn. who has made a good habit of conquering her fears and looking past broader adversity to become a woman for others.

While still an underclassman, Latazia had the incredible opportunity to take a trip to Haiti to help rebuild houses lost after the catastrophic earthquake. While conquering her fear of heights to help rebuild the country, she was able to begin building upon her desire to continue being of service to others.

“Looking back, I should have been afraid, but I believed it was possible to do, so I did it,” says Latazia. “I am not only proud of helping, but I am proud of myself for realizing the effect our minds have on our expectations.”

Moving forward, she hopes to uplift the minds and expectations of students by devoting her life’s work to education justice.

“I want to inspire students to think of the world beyond their current circumstances and to understand the injustices present in society,” says Latazia. Ultimately, she hopes to do so by pursuing a career in school administration and becoming a professor.

Inspiration and Mentorship

Off campus, Latazia credits her mother with being her role model throughout her life. “She has gone through countless traumatic and life altering circumstances, yet she has never given up. Just seeing her alive and thriving makes me feel like anything is possible.”

On campus, she is inspired by her Korean professor who has grown to become one of her closest mentors. According to Latazia, “She is a woman full of wisdom and passionate about living a life that brings happiness into the world. My Korean professor gave me the courage to major in Justice and Peace Studies. I entered college as a Political Economy major, but she questioned my motives. She asked why I was taking it and if I wanted to like or love my major. I decided I wanted to love my major.”

Latazia has been able to identify mentors by “observing and listening to what someone says and does carefully.” A person’s values are important to her. “I would not choose a mentor based on their net worth, but rather the worth they find in the people and environment around them,” Latazia says.

After college, Latazia hopes to find a mentor who inspires her and “takes the time to learn my story as I will take the time to learn his or her story.”

She also would love to be a mentor to others on campus as she is to her younger sister back home. “I have no formal title as a mentor, but I strive to make myself available for anyone who needs my advice. I am also a mentor to my younger sister. She frequently calls to ask for homework help or advice. Growing up, my mother always felt horrible when she was not able to help me with my homework or projects because of her educational background, but now I figured it out. I am glad my sister can rely on me to help her understand things. I am the first person to attend college in my family, but I am confident in my sister’s ability to do the same.”

On campus, Latazia serves as a member of Groove Theory, Gospel Choir, a vlogger on Georgetown Stories, and the Student of Color Alliance Representative for the Black Student Alliance.