A few weeks back I was contacted by a lady from my university who wanted to hire me to photograph classes and events in their department for new brochures and website content. She found out about my photography (a hobby) after I mentioned it to a colleague of hers at a social event in my department.
This isn’t some kind of high paying job. It isn’t a milestone in my career. I don’t even want to make a career out of photography. I am definitely not the best photographer at our university. I am also not the only one who would even be willing to do this kind of job for free. But I got the offer simply through making a good enough impression to make that person recommend me to someone looking for someone with my skill set.
That lady doesn’t have the time to review the entire photography talent pool of the university and she obviously trusts the opinion of her colleague who thinks I am reliable and generally someone she can trust to get the job done well. And in turn I get to boost my creative CV and portfolio with an actual paying job.
This little anecdote is hardly groundbreaking in itself but it shows how important socialising and networking is.
Studying hard is important, but don’t forget that it’s people that hire you and people you work with, and you need to show them you’re the person they want to work with!
Be nice, compliment people, take an interest in whoever you’re talking to. Tead up on the latest news, talk about your interests/hobbies. You’ll find people will be much more willing to talk to you if you can have a conversation about something OTHER than work! Having a hobby in common with someone or generally just a very interesting one will definitely make them remember you.
So go to those employer presentations, conferences, sponsored events, alumni events, basically any kind of social events and work on your networking and social skills. You might not meet the CEO right away but you may meet someone he/she knows that will refer you to them when you apply for the job.
And above all else, don’t forget to SMILE! No one wants to talk to a grump, or the guy that takes himself too seriously.
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Martholio !