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How to Network Like a Pro

The topic of networking often brings to mind awkward interactions and conversations. Many dread it. But, government networking is becoming more essential than ever and it will seem less intimidating if you have the right tools to tackle networking like a champ.

The Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) held its annual Career Development Program (CDP) workshop this week. The program is designed to equip CDP mentees with the personal and professional tools for success in the government.

FAPAC’s mission is to promote equal opportunity and provide support for its members by representing the interests and issues of civilian and military Asian Pacific Americans employees in the Federal and DC governments. Since its foundation in 1985, FAPAC has successfully established nation-wide chapters, as well as within agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Institute of Health.

The workshop included a line-up of experts and practitioners. GovLoop’s Staff Writer, Francesca El Attrash-Ukaejiofo gave a presentation on networking success. Here are some of her tips:

  • Develop your personal brand. This establishes your personal value to your next employer and helps you create a vision for your own future. Perform a self-analysis, and consider your values, passions and strengths. Identify what makes you unique and sets you apart from the rest. By having a clear personal perspective, you can successfully relay your vision, leading to a better job and greater recognition in the public sector.
  • Master the informational interview. This is one of the best ways to acquire meaningful connections and build your network. Information interviews are not as formal as job interviews, but not as casual as a coffee meeting either. “You’re not asking for a job, you’re just asking for their time,” El Attrash-Ukaejiofo said. This is a great way to get to know someone in a field that you’re interested in. Make sure to do your background research before your meet-up. After, don’t forget to follow up and stay in touch with the individual. You want them to know you value his or her time and that you’re not simply using them to gain a leg up.
  • Tackle networking eventsNetworking events can be intimidating. You don’t have to attend a formal networking session, if that makes you uncomfortable. It’s sometimes even best to start small, like a happy hour, for example. Make sure you plan your first impression, but don’t forget to be true to yourself. Avoid coming in with numerical goals, such as “I need to get 20 business cards.” Instead, focus on the quality of conversation. Finally, consider how you can help the other person. Remember–your skills are valuable and people will want what you have to offer.

Learning the ropes of networking takes time. But, it can prove to be an invaluable skill that can help you advance your career and build meaningful relationships throughout your life.

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