So let’s start with the initial approach. Realistically, there are three ways to meet potential dating victims. Two of which are very targeted and deliberate. The other one is more luck and timing.
- The first way (and the bravest if you ask me) is blindly approaching the person.
This tends to happen at more casual outings and events etc. (this is actually way less scary at a networking event).
- The second way is online dating, aka OK Cupid, Match or some other constituent (LinkedIn and in some cases Twitter, is the online equivalent in the professional realm.)
- The final way tends to be more happenstance. You meet somebody through a student organization or through a class project and hit it off. Worst case, you’re at the same event and you’re both waiting in line for the bathroom (an unfortunate place to be in).
We’re going to focus on happenstance today and touch upon the braver approaches later. Let’s ease into this networking thing.
The initial approach, regardless of the circumstance, is generally awkward, but often times we walk away thinking (I hope), “that wasn’t too bad” or at least, “it could have been worse.” And the person you were talking to on most occasions is generally nice and receptive. It’s easier to meet somebody when you share a common interest. “I met someone I would later date because we were in a play together,” says Amy Henion, a recent Communications grad, “we both obviously were theater geeks, and hit it off right away.” Networking generally works the same way.
The easiest way to meet somebody is to go to events and join professional and student organizations related to your major and interests, thus, deliberately putting yourself in situations where it’s natural to meet somebody who is doing something you’re interested in. Plus, you have that common thread now, so there is something to talk about aside from the weather, the Sox’s latest loss, or one of the Kardashians.
Example: if you’re a Physical Therapist or in any healthcare field for that matter, consider volunteering at the Red Cross, or for a big event like the Boston Marathon. You’ll meet people with some pull and it looks good on a resume (just saying).
You can also tap the network you already have. Lots of people get together through friends and networking is similar. Ask former co-op supervisors, faculty, friends and even family if they know anyone working at “X” company. Those are easy matches and generally lead to solid conversations. Just make sure you follow through so you don’t make your friend look like a fool, or ruin a potential match made in heaven.
Do you have a successful “happenstance” networking story? What are tips you would give and questions you asked?
Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.