As a teen, especially in the bustling city of Atlanta, you’re most likely going to come upon the opportunity to network with some kind of professional in the industry you want to pursue. Maybe you want to be a dancer so you network with the guest teacher at your dance studio, or if you want to be a photographer for Time Magazine, you network with a Time Magazine photographer at their open photo exhibition. Opportunities are everywhere, and the ability to network is imperative if you want to get far in any industry. Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and if they know what you can do. So here are five tips on how to network with industry professionals respectfully and impressively.
Tip One: Smile
I can’t emphasize this tip enough. If you’re at a networking event and you’re frowning or being unpleasant, people will notice, and they will remember. If you were having a bad day during an acting workshop and you hardly participated and had a negative attitude , the instructor will notice, and they will remember. So if you see them again at a casting call, they will definitely remember how you acted during that workshop so long ago, and they will not hesitate to let the rest of the panel know that you are unpleasant and negative. People won’t want to work with you if that’s their first impression. Smiling can get you super far.
Tip Two: Make Eye Contact
Making eye contact is super important. Body language by itself is a huge portion of communication between you and that industry professional you’re speaking too. In addition to standing up straight, not fidgeting, and not looking down, make sure you make eye contact. There is something about looking into somebody’s eyes; you can see if they’re genuinely engaged in what you’re talking about or if they are into another world.
Tip Three: Listen
Listening is incredibly important. The thing about networking is that you’re pitching yourself while trying to get insight and information. Listening more than you speak and actively asking questions is super important. Don’t listen to respond; listen to understand.
Tip Four: Be Prepared
Every networking event is different, so when you show up, always know why you’re there and what people might want to know about you. Be ready to answer questions about yourself and/or the organization that you are representing.
Tip Five: Be Yourself
The most important tip for not just networking, but for living life, is to always be yourself. People will be able to notice whether or not you’re being authentic with them.