The first time someone at a networking event asks you what you do, you may struggle to answer especially if you are still in school. But the more times you answer that question, the better you get it. You have the chance to refine and distill your responses that you can only learn through practice. It never hurts to practice your answers to common questions such as, what do you do or where are you studying, before a networking event.
Additionally, when you have been to a few networking events, you will start to connect with people both in person and on social media as well. As you build these connections, you will be more confident in your ability to network. This is a type of confidence that you can only get from experience and you will never get if you do not get out and network.
2. Build Friendships
Are you going to be friends with everyone you get to know through networking? No, of course not. There are great benefits to building and maintaining professional relationships of all kinds. When friendships are formed, however, it is definitely an added bonus. Yes, friends are more likely to give each other referrals, but that's not the greatest benefit.
We human being are social creatures. The bonds of friendship have an overall positive impact on our lives that cannot be quantified by the number of job leads or new clients they yield. In hospitality, as with any industry, it can be hard for people outside the industry to relate to your experiences. Industry friends understand your challenges and your victories.
One of the great advantages of networking is the chance to learn from the experiences of those who have gone before you. Through networking, you will have the chance to interact with people in the hospitality and tourism industry who are further along in their careers than you.
Take advantage of this incredible opportunity by asking for their advice and listening to any tips they may offer. Before long, you will gain more experience and find more and more of the people you are meeting at networking events are earlier in their careers than you. This is your chance to pass on the advice you received as well as any insight you have personally learned along the way.
4. Access to More Opportunities
Yes, this does fall under lead generation, but it is actually a massive benefit of networking. It is not at the top of our list, however, because it is not usually something that happens right away. After you have gained confidence, initiated friendships, and established your reputation, then you will start to see an increase in opportunities. Everyone else is also building their personal brand and no one wants to offer to connect you with opportunities if you haven't already established trust with them.
The leads you get from networking may have an immediate impact on your career, but it is the other benefits of networking that will make a real difference over the course of your life. Whether you are looking for an internship or ready to hire an intern, networking gives you the chance to get to know people across in the hospitality industry.
Make sure you take advantage of these benefits with this cheat sheet.
Author: Lynn Bruines, AEHL 2008 and founder atThe Prospi: Career Guidance To Help Hospitality Professionals Land Their Dream Careers.