1. Remember not to be too pushy: Make a small demand and be humble about your request. Alumni and professionals are not there to sort out your problems and find you a job. “At the end of the day,” says William Lamain, “networking is like dating.” You don’t want to throw yourself at the person. In that sense, “it is more of an art than a science.”
2. Go broad rather than narrow: Join social clubs, never eat lunch alone and talk to the wider community in your university. “You need to have the courage to move beyond the obvious circle of people,” says Hamish Forsyth.
3. Contact people who know your situation: While all alumni are potential anchors of help, especially in today’s troubled waters, those who graduated during earlier recessions will understand the problems you’re having now: “I received a lot of helpful advice from people who graduated in late 2001 or early 2002,” says a member of Insead's class of 2008 who was known as a gifted networker. These alumni are likely to be sympathetic to your circumstances and will be happy to help.
4. Be genuinely interested: Networking is mainly there to give you information about the industry or company you want to get into. Never ask about the salary you might get or even about a particular vacancy directly: “People won’t even bother responding to that kind of request”, says the Insead networker.
5. Know the order of things: If you are interested in working for a particular company, you should start to network by talking to people from your own class who have experience with that company. Then you contact alumni who graduated a few years ago and who are now with that company. “Then you move on to the people who graduated seven years out, and finally, if their responses are positive, you contact those from 20 years ago,” is the Insead graduate's advise. Make sure you know as much as you can about the company before you contact senior people.
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