I have learned so many things during my time so far in Zeta Phi Eta, and all of them have improved my professionalism. One thing that has opened opportunities for me has been networking. Something that my fellow brothers and I were taught since the beginning was when you meet someone, it doesn’t matter if they are involved in your professional life, you should always follow up with them by sending an email. Personally, I had never thought of reaching out to someone I just met because I worried that I would be bothering him or her. When in fact, they might appreciate that I took the time to thank them for speaking with me. Following up with a professional makes me stand out, and shows my commitment to keeping a connection with that person.
In today’s world it is all about whom you know. The more connections you have, the better off you will be. While I am not sure where I will end up when I graduate from UCF in a year, I know that if I keep going out of my way to meet people, and stay connected with them that I will have professionals in my field of interest to contact in my job search.
Following up with professionals that I meet has become a crucial part of my professional development. In following up I am showing interest in a further connection. Even if the email goes unanswered the effort and good intentions were present. When someone does reply though, there is a great sense of validation in my professionalism. Whether or not the professional replies to a follow up email there is a level of professionalism in the action that not everyone possesses.
Each time I get the chance to speak to a professional in the field, I try to get their business card and I send them an email within 24 hours of meeting them attempting to connect. By also keeping the email within business hours there is a greater sense of professionalism. In the email I include my name, some details from our conversation, and also some points of interest about me as a professional. At this time it might also be a good idea to ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn, another powerful networking tool. This simple action sets me above the rest of my peers by assuring that the people that I meet professionally remember me and what I am interested in.
Following up with professionals that I come in contact with is something that I have begun to practice regularly. This has improved my confidence, my professionalism and it has presented more opportunities in my life. Who knew something as simple as thanking a professional for their time after meeting them could make such a huge difference?