On Tuesday, March 29th Aakash Patel, Founder and President of Elevate Inc. taught a class of student veterans how to leverage their network. Larry Braue and the Office of Veteran Services at the University of South Florida organized this gathering. This session taught valuable networking skills that help individuals become more successful in the business world. The ultimate goal was for students to become confident with their networking abilities and not be afraid to take risks.
Mr. Patel began with a video showing how not to act in a networking event. This video allowed the students to be interactive by pointing out how to correct aspects of the starring role’s behavior. A few of which was to practice your pitch beforehand to avoid uncomfortable situations, always talk to the staff, and treat them right. Aakash then went on and stressed the importance of always carrying a business card. “You never know when you’re going to meet someone” he said.
Whether it’s direct or indirect, your next boss is more than likely someone you already know. Because of this, always leave a positive impression by acting genuinely interested and invested in every conversation that comes your way. Patel then told the class his story on how he got started with his career.
Flying home from Florida State University, he started talking to the man sitting next to him on his flight. The man was reading a book and wasn’t interested in talking to Mr. Patel. At baggage claim, Aakash went up to the man and handed him his business card. A year later, the man e-mailed Aakash and they reconnected. Another year past and Aakash was getting ready to graduate college. He e-mailed the man asking about a job. The man e-mailed back explaining that he started his own public relations firm and offered him the job. Moral of the story is, attempt to talk to as many people as possible because if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
To this day, when Aakash is asked how he got to wear he is today, he replies “I spoke to the wrong guy on a flight.” Throughout this session, Aakash emphasized the importance of following up within 24 hours of meeting the individual. Make a template that has a general structure to save time writing follow-ups. However, do not forget to add something personal for them to remember you by. In addition, like the companies Facebook page and follow them on other forms of social media. If time goes by and they never answer your e-mail back, send a “touching base” e-mail to show you are still interested. Aakash gave the statistic that fifty percent of people do not do the second follow up. Spending time on the second follow up increases the chance of a response greatly.
When organizing whom you meet, keep an Excel template running with basic information to keep track of everyone. Aakash suggested that students should get involved with community events because people want to see what you’re doing and that you’re credible and prevalent. At the end of this event, Aakash met personally with the veterans and exchanged business cards to get them better connected.
Visit Elevate, Inc’s website to learn more about the power of networking.
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