What is Networking
As defined in Investopedia, Networking refers to a conversation usually in an informal setting, where you exchange ideas and information with people of common profession or special interests. As an opportunity, you can network to expand your circle which will help you learn more about different job opportunities in the field, it will help you increase awareness pertaining to trends or news in the field, or in the world in general.
How to Network as an Architecture Student
Of course, we architects and architecture students are some of the people who constantly need to do some networking to help ourselves in the career. It is not merely to self-serve, but it’s also a way to extend our services to other people, to interested parties who may want or need them.
You might think you’ll only need to start networking when you’re already a professional, or a graduate but that is not true. Although your skills and credentials matter, you’ll find that your connections can and will help you get to places or situations you want to be in easier compared to if you didn’t have them.
You May Want to Read: What is Architecture? Introduction, Apprenticeship, ALE
You don’t start when you graduate, you start now, as soon as you can. Want to know how? Check out the listed below:
Get to Know who Your Connections Know
Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s not about who you know, it’s about who the people you know, know.” Imagine your expanse when you think this way. When you need someone or when someone needs you, you may tap someone or be tapped by someone by a common friend, a common connection — and how many times have people met through a “common friend”?
Who Your Blockmates Know
There are tons of social events that can happen inside the university – whether it be a casual night out with blockmates and friends, or going to a student organization’s party. Attending them may help you get to know more people who are also fellow students in your field.
Who Your Professors Know
Whenever I felt close to professors, it made me feel happy and secure in a sense that I felt like I had mentors. You may learn a lot about life and architecture through them, just like I have, but you may also be presented or you can ask about different job or career opportunities from them. Some professors even hire students for their on-the-job training (OJT) or apprenticeship.
Who Your Family Knows
Of course, a lot of the time, our career starts with family – whether the job opportunity comes directly from them – or it starts with who they know. I was able to have my OJT in a firm owned by my mom’s boss’ relative. Got that? That was three layers of connection – from my mom who knew her boss who has a relative who’s an architect.
Who Your Organization Knows
If you’re a part of a student organization or even an organization outside school, you probably already know that partaking in their activities will definitely expand your network. Whether or not it’s an architecture-related organization, joining them will definitely widen your circle which could present opportunities at present or in the future.
Making the Most of Social Media
A lot of people I know – even those I barely know – have already presented themselves and their skills online by having dedicated accounts or pages which shows them. Whether it be through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, you can start building your “online portfolio” or online presence by showcasing your works such as your renders and designs (just make sure you put some watermark on them!)
Showcasing your skills online may help you gather contacts or future clients, as experienced by some designers who present and show their works in Youtube. If not, you can still share about them whenever you’re about to have an interview or add them in your resume (which should be taken in consideration depending on different situations).
Related: How to Apply to Different Architectural Firms
LinkedIn is one of the most popular professional online platforms. In here, you can input all your credentials as if you were making an online resume, including your contacts. It is also an online job search engine where you can definitely look up different job opportunities.
Some people on LinkedIn are actually human resource personnel or people who look up others who may fit the job they’re offering, even if you’re not actively applying. You may find someone trying to “connect” with you on your profile and message you about said opportunities.
I’d like to think LinkedIn is like Facebook but make it professional. It, however, does not make the latter useless. Facebook is still a large online platform where you can definitely meet and connect with people (with precaution), and connect with “people you may know” in the same field.
Instagram is a place where I place some of my works, similarly with a lot of other people. I don’t personally actively connect with people here relating to my career but it may help you if you create a public professional profile as I have. A professional profile can add a label under your name to show that you’re an “architectural designer” alongside other additional features.
Don’t Ask for a Job, Ask for Tips on How to Get a Job
Although I have mentioned that some professors hire their students for apprenticeship (and therefore I’m assuming that they asked for a job), you may also want to do it indirectly by asking for tips instead on how to get them.
Personally, I think asking for tips on how to get a job may answer not only your current concerns but your future as well. This is a conversation starter, too. You don’t want to only have “professional connections” where it all seems heartless or purely impersonal. I believe the best connections out there are those where people have mutual understanding of their interests which makes it still quite personal. Your personality matters, and the personality of the person you’re trying to connect with also matters.
Be a Good Listener
When connecting with people, it is wise to be a good listener. This means letting the other person speak while you intently and actively listen — that is the start of good communication. You’ll want to feel listened to when you’re speaking yourself, right?
How do you know if you’ve been good at listening? That’s if you’re not trying to formulate an answer while the other person is still talking.
If you’re gonna tell a story, present a successful one; show your value (but don’t boast!)
I’d like to think that in any job, it should be a win-win situation. I’m aware of what I want the company to do for me as an employee but I also need to bring good value to the table. If you’re going to tell a story, present a successful one. If you’re going to talk about your failures or weaknesses, also talk about how you overcame them. Careful not to boast though, no one likes arrogance.
How can you be of service? What are you good at? Where are you confident in? If you know and talk about these things, I personally think you’ll find it more comfortable to talk about which can make you seem really convincing. You may find confidence in competence.
Find reasons to follow up
If you’re actively applying for jobs, it is wise to do follow ups. According to Zety, hiring managers prefer follow-ups after one to less than two weeks. With hundreds of possible applicants, you’ll want yours to stand out and actively show your interest.
No one is unimportant
You might think, “what is my value?” or “what can I bring to the table?” You may be insecure or questioning if your skills are enough. The truth is, no one knows-it-all. We are all learning new things along the way. And because of our experiences whatever they may be, we too have already learned things that could help us along the way.
No one is unimportant, each and everyone of us has value no matter what anyone says or no matter what you think of yourself.
Remember though, if you’re not unimportant, then so is the person you’re trying to connect with. It’s not about your personal agenda but about what you both can contribute with one another.
Don’t forget about gratitude
Whatever happens, it is wise to always have a grateful soul. You’ll always want to say thank you to the person you’re connecting with as both of you have contributed something more or less, whether it be time or opportunity, or mere presence.
Whatever happens with your connections, we can all learn in any experiences and being grateful about them will definitely help our perspective. Never burn bridges, too! You may be surprised of how small the world can be.