This post was written by a member of the Debut Student Publisher Network. Check out Natalie’s top ways to network on your internship:
Okay, so I’m just going to say it: networking can be super scary. It’s one of those things that you need to do to boost your career prospects, but you don’t want to do because it is absolutely terrifying.
Whether it’s walking up to a colleague and trying to pull a conversation out of nowhere or attempting to keep in touch after your internship, there are so many aspects to networking we need to consider. Sometimes, it makes the whole situation feel like Mission Impossible. I’m sure many of us would feel more comfortable imitating Tom Cruise as a spy than approaching a ‘stranger’ and making friends with them. But there’s no need to fear fellow interns. We’ve come up with several simple and easy ways to network while on your internship. So, get your notepad ready because here they come:
Follow your coworkers on social media
This is possibly the easiest and most effective way of networking during and after your internship. Simply follow your team on Twitter and Linkedin during the first or second week of your internship. Following them not only gives the impression that you’re interested in what they have to say, but it also makes keeping in touch a lot easier.
So, if they post something on Twitter or Linkedin, give it a like or reply with something relevant and chatty. Doing this creates a communication precedent – which means you can avoid awkwardly popping into their DMs if you ever wanted a reference.
Ask someone on your team to introduce you to someone else
Whether you’re at a startup or a large company, chances are there will be different departments with people that don’t know who you are. But what if you’re curious about the other departments? Well, we’ve got a solution that doesn’t include nervously hanging around their desks.
All you need to do is mention to your team that you’d be interested in talking to this specific department. You can do this by asking questions or working it into a conversation. If they’re not busy, they’ll probably take you to the team and introduce you. This takes the awkwardness and anxiety out of trying to approach them – especially if you’re quite a shy person.
I used this method once on a work experience and I ended up doing tasks for my team and the other department. I learnt a lot, created a bigger portfolio and made twice as many contacts.
Make conversation in the kitchen
Most offices will have a kitchen, and is secretly one of the best places you can network. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I know how scary it can be trying to talk to people you’ve never met before. But trust me, it’s something you CAN overcome.
All you need to do is smile, introduce yourself in a casual way and go with the flow of the conversation. My favourite approach is to (honestly) compliment them and then say ‘oh I haven’t seen you around the office. Hi I’m Natalie, I’m the _____ intern.’ From there, they will probably introduce themselves and you can hopefully start chatting to them.
Offer to make drinks
It can be hard to make conversation from nowhere. So, if you’re planning on making yourself a tea why not ask your team members if they want a hot drink? I know the ‘intern making drinks’ trope is a very controversial topic. However, from experience, I think it’s fine to make tea or coffee if it’s reciprocated by your team.
For example, if you make drinks in the morning, another team member should make them in the afternoon. If you join the ‘tea run’ it also makes you look like you’re open to things, as you’re being active within the team by being a part of their office life.
Ask someone on your team to lunch
Once upon a time I was on my first work experience. I was really young and knew practically nothing about my chosen profession. So, in the middle of the week I asked a colleague to lunch through email and they said yes. Not only did I land myself another work experience through one of her contacts, but I learnt so much about the industry. So, if there’s a member of the team you’d love to ask some questions or they have contacts you’d be interested in working for – ask them to lunch.
Explain that you’d love to talk to them about x, y and z. If they say no, then no worries! You’ve shown initiative and a willingness to learn, which might pay off later during your internship if they know you’re super eager to get on. If they say yes, then make sure you’ve got some conversation topics/questions and make yourself a contact. The best thing about this method is that you’re able to network one on one, rather than trying to impress the entire team at the same time. It really takes the pressure off. Trust me!
Feature image via Metro Goldwyn Mayer