“The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozers are good listeners, not good talkers.”
Anyone hoping to network while interning abroad should keep Guy Kawasaki’s advice in mind. Listen to what the people you want to connect with have to say and they will feel valued when they’re around you.
Being genuinely interested in others is the first step to building new professional relationships and taking them beyond small talk while the kettle boils.
Here are four ways that you can create opportunities to network and put Guy’s advice into practice while you’re interning abroad:
1. STRIKE UP CONVERSATIONS IN COMMUNAL AREAS.
Depending on your internship site and office layout, there are likely several areas where you will regularly bump into colleagues you haven’t met before or have only been introduced to briefly - the kitchen, the hallway, the entryway or reception area, the printer, etc. These are key moments for informal networking. You don’t want to tie someone up with long conversations, but you’ll become more and more familiar to people as you make small exchanges. Think little and often.
2. COMPLIMENT SOMEONE’S WORK.
Depending on your internship site, there’s a good chance you’ll be introduced to someone else’s work at some point. This could be a research project, a presentation, a successful marketing campaign, or even something as simple as a really impressive spreadsheet. Take a moment to approach the person and compliment them on a job well done - on their knowledge, their enthusiasm as a presenter, their creativity or even something that’s oftentimes overlooked like their organizational skills.
3. ASK FOR AN INTRO.
If there’s a colleague you have in mind that you’d love to meet at your internship site - perhaps because you’ve heard they have a similar background to yours or career interests that interest you or because they work in a role that you aspire to one day pursue for yourself - sometimes the best thing to do is to straight up ask a colleague who knows that person well to introduce you at a mutually convenient moment!
4. INVITE YOUR INTERNSHIP COLLEAGUES TO LUNCH.
If your colleagues tend to go out for lunch, join in on the office culture rather than working through your break even if you do at home. Not only is it good to get away from your screen for a while, it’s a great time to have more in depth conversations with people that you might not have at other times during the day. Ask the person you’re closest to if they have lunch plans and they’ll likely invite you along if they do. Another option is to invite someone senior out to lunch by asking for an informational interview during which you learn more about their role - perhaps one that you see yourself doing in the future.
- Need an instant and obvious conversation starter? Ask questions about the local culture or tips for places to eat or things to do or see nearby!
- If you have your own desk, keep some sort of conversational object there that people might comment on as they pass.
- If it’s a common practice at your internship, you might offer to make tea or coffee for your team or someone who works close to you.
Overall, aspire to be an approachable and friendly face in the office. And, of course, remember to listen.
Interesting in interning abroad with CAPA? Schedule a call with one of our admissions advisors today: