Building bridges : Getting Across



Building bridges : Getting Across

Geplaatst op 14/12/2023 door Magalie

Deel dit artikel

You might have read the first part of Building Bridges and found people you would like to talk to. If not, I highly recommend checking it out before reading this!

In this second part of the article, we will figure out how to actually talk to people. It's sometimes hard to know how to reach out and get across to someone else: talking to a person you have never met before can be challenging! If you’re looking for ways to get through, look no further: here are some useful tips to help you connect.

Finding your way

Introvert? Discouraged by the cold weather? You can reach out to people all around the world or around your corner, from the comfort of your own couch: companies and people each have their preferred platform, so you might want to get acquainted with a few different ones. The most widespread professional network would be LinkedIn, but some also use Twitter (now X). You can follow and contact your person of interest directly through these networks: Introduce yourself briefly (graduate in X field, interested in Y… why are you reaching out?) and ask specific questions that show your interest. Most importantly, pay attention to the answer!

Mentorships and online classes also enable you to talk to your teacher, mentor or fellow members aside from assignments: just do it!

More of a face-to-face go-getter? Conferences and events allow you to talk directly to the person you’re interested in connecting with. Make sure your questions are oriented towards their work, but in line with the theme brought up during the event. During job fairs, you can also talk to representatives in booths.

In case you are meeting someone face-to-face, here are some pro tips:

  • Show interest with actions, not words:  Don’t just tell them you are interested! Stay after a presentation to ask questions to the speaker and introduce yourself to them. Research your subject and prepare a few questions beforehand, in case they are answered during the talk. If you feel like the exchange is going well and you have more questions in mind you’d like to talk about, let them know: “I would be interested in talking further about this, would you be open to connecting?”. If for any reason the exchange is not going well and your interlocutor seems distant or reluctant in any way to engage, just thank them for their time and leave. 
  • If the context is appropriate, try  wearing something that pops out!  Stay true to yourself and be professional but a brooch, butterfly bow tie or bright colored shoes can spark up light hearted conversations and make it easier to remember you afterwards. 
  • Whether you agree with their answer or not, do not argue. Instead just make a note about it for yourself, you are here to learn and make up your mind. I feel like it is ok to express doubt as long as you put it in context and don't doubt the person's abilities or qualifications. Something like “I wasn't expecting that, I learnt this and I feel like it contradicts it. How does that work with that?” is fine and provides space for exchange and discussion. 
  • When reaching out again, introduce yourself in one sentence : who are you (the bee brooch graduate) , where you met and what you talked about - so that the person remembers who you were. Thank them for their time back then and ask a follow up question. Do not ask anything personal like how they are and if they got home safe (as obvious as it sounds) but something in the lines of “I looked up what you mentioned in our last talk and I was wondering [insert question]”.

Volunteering and open days are opportunities to connect with people too! Check out the website or social media accounts of the companies you’re interested in. These opportunities are great ways to satisfy your general interest and curiosity if you don’t have specific questions in mind. These experiences might also make you raise questions and develop your interest!

As for recruiters, you can connect directly on social platforms or at job fairs. Remember it’s their job to hire people and that they are doing their work by connecting back with you. Instead of saying you are interested in their company, show your interest by asking specific questions about their ongoing projects, long term plans, future openings or the stance of the company on certain topics.

Useful tip!

Have a QR code (linked to your connection request on LinkedIn) as your locked screen or printed on a card or a paper in your phone case to show when connecting. In conferences and fairs, people will interact with dozens more and will likely forget you by the end of the event. By connecting right then and there, you won't have to worry about your request being indefinitely left on hold.

You don’t always know what’s going on in someone’s life, and sometimes despite your best effort it’s just not the right time or place. Don’t hold it against yourself, you will not always get answers and that’s okay. Ultimately, things will happen, so keep walking down that path!