Successful Networking as an Intern

Successful Networking as an Intern

Internships are usually short. Generally, most of the interns try to make the best out of their internship by focusing tremendously on the work and focus to learn a lot in those few weeks or months of engagement. But, in this era, doing a great job is not sufficient to be noticed anymore; we need to build relationships at the workplace to be visible and remembered.

Though this blog will focus on the term internship, it is still valid for the folks entering the industry as freshers.

Most of us believe that networking is an overhead but we should still do it. I too believed the same until I realised the fact that it should be called more of a relationship building. We realise it’s true value once an individual steps into the industry to work full time.

During an internship, there is a short window of time when people start forming an opinion about an individual and make up their minds about whether a person is dependable or not.

The hardest part of relationship building is taking the first step. If one can start working on these skills, they can create a good strong network for times to come.

Here are the six things we can do to get started:

1. Embrace to build relationships

People want to connect. There is no space for cosmetic behaviour in today’s world; people prefer genuineness. There were formal methods to connect to people earlier like giving a quick introduction about yourself, exchanging business cards and a firm handshake etc. All these methods build formal contacts only which are short-lived. 

One needs to be informed and involved with others. We must aim to add value to the lives of every person we come in contact with. This creates a ripple effect and at some point comes back to us in a positive way. People like to be around individuals who add value to them or impact their lives positively.

When people take an emotional stake in each other’s success, it is the defining attribute of a great relationship

Jim Dougherty

2. Research

There is so much information out there at our disposal at almost negligible or no cost. When we decide to approach someone, it is good to do some research about the individual by spending just a few minutes on their online presense. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook are some good starting points that are easily accessible to everyone. 

Most of the times we arrive at a common topic. We may both like the same sport, team, music, art, technology or even fashion. One must use this as a conversation initiator to break the ice and get into a comfort zone in just a few minutes.

3. Be genuinely curious

People love to talk about themselves. They like to be noticed and heard. Our research will help us to initiate a conversation with them and build rapport. A simple question about their journey, hobbies and interests can cheer them up and get them to talk. 

We should be eager to ask specific questions to them like “I got a chance to look at your profile on LinkedIn. I was fascinated by the fact that you have interest in People Skills and have even done a few courses online regarding the same”.

This will make them happy and they would be excited to discuss it, making them more comfortable with us.


4. Be selfless

One needs to have an attitude to help or contribute without expecting returns. There are different kinds of people who have different mindsets about the same situation.

Let us consider these replies from 3 different people as a response to some situation:

  1. How can I help?
  2. What do you want?
  3. What is there in it for me?

Whom do you think you will be responding to?

For most people, they will be most comfortable to talk to the first person who replied: “How can I help?”.

This reply immediately shifts the ball on the other person’s court and allows them to be heard and helped.

Focus attention and energy on making a difference in the lives of others, and success might follow as a by-product.

Adam Grant

Teaching is another area which builds strong relationships. Mentoring or teaching someone something that we are good at is remembered and acknowledged. A simple way is to spend a few weeks or months to master at something and then spread the knowledge.


5. Stay visible & follow up

What is seen is sold.

This is a very famous saying. We need to stay visible to others. When opportunity knocks, the most visible person is sometimes chosen for it. Being visible does not mean to be present everywhere. It rather means to be in a state where people will remember us and our work which will help them to pick our name when they have some opportunity in hand.

There are many ways to make an impact on others and ensure that one is remembered. One of the interesting things is to be unique. People generally do not forget something unique or unusual.

Having researched someone before talking to them, being a good listener, having inquisitive follow-up questions are a few things that most people do not do. Doing this gives us another space with the person in concern and differentiates us from others.

What I generally do is create a small mind map of the conversation highlights with any person I talk to. If I get to meet them again, I usually start with one of the highlights that mark as a starting point of our conversation.

Increase the memory capacity to remember the previous discussions with people. Bringing them up to a new conversation gives a very positive outlook that we were paying attention in the earlier talk and cared to remember what they said.

Some examples of good conversation followup initiator:

  • You were supposed to go for a trek to Ladakh right? How was it?”
  • I recall that your daughter was preparing for a mathematical olympiad last month. How is the preparation going? Is she excited about it?

6. Ask for specific advice

Apart from getting to know other people and remember about them, we must also shell out some of our thoughts for them to remember. This ensures that we have a two-way bridge. Inform people briefly about what we are doing and what our plans are. When we meet next, they can also have a conversation initiator.

A very simple way is to ask for simple advice. This should be done only after we establish good professional relationship with them. Asking advice otherwise would seem very eager and awkward.

It is good to keep close-ended topics and sentences that can be quick to grasp and easy to remember when seeking for advice.

Prefer statements like:

  • What is that one thing I need to focus on to get better at XYZ?
  • I am planning for a winter trek this December. I know you are fond of treks and have done a few in the past. This is my first. Do you have any advice for me or anything to share that I should look forward to?

People are bound to answer those questions with deep interest and in-fact will follow up with us after we are done or achieved that thing.

Knowledge is of no use if we do not know how to apply it. Every opportunity matters. We must focus to increase our connects and build relationships that will benefit us for years.

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