Mastering Strategic Networking: Main Insights From Guest Speaker Event at UIC Business
Networking connects college students seeking professional jobs to hidden opportunities, industry insights, referrals, skill development, and the chance to build confidence and professional identity. It’s a powerful tool that can significantly accelerate the job search and pave the way for a successful career transition.
On November 2, UIC Business hosted alum Fred Siegman as a guest speaker to discuss how to network and build your personal brand strategically to achieve personal and professional success.
Fred Siegman, a Serial Connector® strategist with extensive experience, educates business leaders and students on personal branding and strategic networking. He has collaborated with a diverse range of businesses, both local and international, and has presented at universities including UIC, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, and DePaul, as well as at numerous corporations and workshops. Siegman holds a degree from UIC and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Fred Siegman has always loved connecting people. He recognizes their common links and then acts to make introductions. Intrigued by wanting to help others network well, Fred has researched the actions and thought processes of super-networkers. His discoveries resulted in the creation of Fred’s Personal Brand Pyramid.
The triangle at the pyramid’s pinnacle reflects its peak importance. Strategically building relationships, more than any other personal branding activity, will open doors to jobs and help you identify informal mentors, sponsors, future bosses, co-workers, customers/clients, and also people who become friends.
“Your strategy requires planning. Determine why you want to network and establish your goal. For example, you may want to connect with people who can help you get a professional position. After setting that goal, who will be your targets? They can be specific companies, industries, and people. You now need to determine what actions to take that will connect you. Here’s the best one of several: use LinkedIn and other resources, like your professors, to explore if people you know have connections to your targets. I call these the ‘three W’s of strategic networking’: why, who, and what. Following them will make your networking rewarding and enjoyable,” says Fred Siegman.
An equally important question in building strategic networking is ‘how’? How to start a conversation organically. Fred shares his own experience, saying: “I have planned some of my best “spontaneous” remarks three weeks in advance! It’s often challenging to say the right thing at the right time. Prepare what you will say to someone you plan to meet, people you meet randomly. Prepare responses to greeting questions like “How are you?” or “How’s it going?”, what you might say to someone waiting in a line next to you, and other situations you can imagine. You’ll connect to more people successfully and research shows you will be happier.”
You will always meet people randomly. Most of the time, you have chosen to be in a certain place, for example, a class, a concert, or an organization meeting. Your choices have brought you in contact with others who share something with you. So, it’s not entirely random. You have engaged in strategic networking and didn’t even realize it. We hope that you find these tips to be helpful as you continue to enhance your networking experience.