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Talk to that professional you admire
August 21, 2017, 11:54 am

Knowing how to effectively network is a good skill that can help you achieve career success: In fact, 70 percent of people get hired at companies where they already have a connection. While it’s exciting to hit up the cool conference on your bucket list or finally find the courage to cold-email your dream mentor, it can also be majorly nerve-wracking to approach a person in your industry you idolize. Here are some tips for approaching someone you admire without chickening out.

Do your homework: When it comes to approaching someone you admire, you should brush up on their background. Social sites and professional platforms like LinkedIn are a great way to inform yourself, and what you find should help you form answers to key questions that will help you get into the right mindset. You should also consider how a professional relationship can be mutually beneficial. Have specific goals in mind, so you can make the most out of a conversation once you connect.

Polish your pitch: Take time to develop a compelling, 30-second description of yourself, your experience, and your goals. Having an elevator pitch will keep you from stumbling and help you easily explain who you are and what you do. Before you connect with the person you admire, plan out what you want to say. A mentor or professional contact might be able to help you practice your delivery to give you even more confidence in your pitch.

Stay in the know: Follow trending topics and the latest headlines, and know about developing news and perspectives in your field. Being able to speak to recent industry trends and forward-thinking ideas will help you feel confident communicating with someone you admire, while demonstrating your value as a professional. Always have an action plan before you go to any professional event, and it includes conversation starters that will help you with the topic you are hoping to cover, be it a new job or expanding your client base. Make sure your openers give the other person a chance to talk about themselves too; this will help you figure out how to steer the conversation.

Focus on follow-up: Confidently connecting with someone you admire is wonderufl, but you should always follow up to nurture the relationship — be it with a handwritten note, email, or LinkedIn request. Follow up within 24 hours, and be sure to thank your contact for taking time to chat with you — you never know what doors a new connection might open.

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