Networking is the life line of any career. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a college student trying to find their next internship, networking correctly can open a lot of doors for you.

Here are seven tips to use for your next networking opportunity.

1. Smile and like you mean it

Not the "Why do I have to be here?" grimace and not like your driver license picture smile. People notice if your smile is genuine and being genuine is a sign of trustworthy person. In turn, trustworthy people get hired.

2. A firm handshake goes a long way

Leave your limp noodle handshakes at home and your hand kissing for debutante season. It's important to have a firm handshake, but it's even more important as woman to be able deliver a solid handshake in a business environment. A 2001 University of Alabama study by psychologist William Chapin showed that "women with firm handshakes tend to be evaluated as positively as men are."

3. Be prepared with your business card

A proper business card has your name, a work email and work number. Your proper business cards need to fit your industry. If you're a creative, the more memorable the card is, the better. If you work in finance, healthcare or a more formal industry, stick to a classic design on heavy weight paper. Be sure to have a stack in a professional case. Business cards go like hot cakes and not having enough makes you look unprepared.

4. Talk to everyone

Competitors, connectors, your next boss and even the people not in your industry. No one is too good for your attention. The six degrees of separation is pretty accurate—everyone knows someone. Your job is finding the people who know the right people for you. Whether you like it or not, personal relationships tend to land you at the top of the list.

5. Be sure to know the most relevant news

The weather and non-political (unless you are at a political event) news are great icebreakers. Knowing what's happening in the world shows that are you're informed and can tap into relevant issues for work. Even better is knowing industry news. Your competitor's CEO just switched companies? Know when and her new responsibilities. Are you in advertising? What's trending in design? What's the next big thing? Who did the most-talked about commercial? Are you a writer? Who broke the latest news? Who won the latest writing award? What's trending on the runway? What aren't people talking about?

6. Ask appropriate personal questions

Beyond the who do you know, asking the right questions helps create common ground. Sincerely ask how their day is going, how long they've been working for their current company, what attracted them to their current job and what they're interested in outside of work. Talking about what you love excites people and leaves the impression you're an enjoyable person to have around. Don't ask if someone is married, what their religion is and for other personal information you don't share in work settings. Propriety isn't dead.

7. Follow up

Take all of those business cards you collected and start making LinkedIn connections. Find the cards of the people you had lengthy conversations with and send them a quick email thanking them for their time one to two days later.

Developing a relationship with people before your job hunt starts gets your foot in door before you're printing out resumes.

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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