December 15, 2015
Networking is a great way to build your career, especially in the culinary arts.

Networking is a great way to build your career, especially in the culinary arts.

You’ll make plenty of friends during your time in a culinary arts program. These individuals will become a support system, and their friendship and guidance will be vital as you progress into becoming a world-class chef. You’ll also need to rely on interpersonal relationships following graduation. However, forging professional connections can prove difficult when you’re cooking for up to 14 hours a day. To make more of your efforts, follow these five tips for effective career networking:

1. Try re-connecting first
As mentioned above, the first people you’ll meet and forge connections with are your fellow culinary students. Given your history, it’s no wonder that The Week suggested that you begin any networking efforts by revisiting these individuals. You know how one another thinks and operates, and that means you can skip a lot of the awkward introductory phase that often accompanies networking. You’ll also feel more confident vouching for other people’s abilities in the kitchen because you’ve seen how they handle themselves. Plus, given that these people are already your friends, it’s so much easier to connect with them through portals like Facebook or even a semi-professional text message.

2. Always plan ahead
As you may have heard before, first impressions matter, and it’s often hard to erase the results if you have a less-than-perfect first meeting. In fact, according to a 2014 study by the Society for Personalty and Social Psychology, not even verifiable facts can alter a person’s first impressions. It’s no wonder, then, that Career Realism suggested you plan ahead before any networking opportunities. For instance, if you’re attending a networking event, take some time to plan out what you want to say, including the most important facts about yourself and any specific goals you have in mind. However, don’t just tell people about yourself; be prepared to demonstrate your skills. If you think you’re a great leader on the line, tell people stories about a specific instance that occurred in your kitchen. This will only substantiate your claims and make you look stronger overall.

3. Find your superconnectors
According to the Harvard Business Review, the bulk of any one person’s network is facilitated by so-called superconnectors. These people are responsible for the majority of your friendships and professional relationships. To properly identify these people, HBR suggested writing down a list of your primary contacts and how you met these people. With enough names on the list, it should be easy to identify those handful of people who have helped your previous networking efforts. From there, you can then rely on these people to meet and develop new connections. Plus, knowing who you’ve previously relied on to make connections can tell you a lot about your networking habits and how to expand your efforts.

4. Remain perpetually curious
It would be great if people could simply approach one another and know they could rely on one another to develop their personal networks. However, the only true way to find that sense of compatibility is to ask loads of questions, according to Forbes. Whatever you may be pondering, don’t be afraid to ask. Any piece of information – be it career hopes, specific job titles or anything about the culinary business as a whole – can be important when forging new relationships. As an extension of this, you want to make sure your conversations and friendly and earnest. Yes, you’re working to further your career, but you should always do so by facilitating a sense of trust.

5. Don’t forget to follow through
So you’ve met a potential new career contact, wowed them with your friendly, organic pitch and they seemed interested in furthering the relationship. What comes next? As Entrepreneur explained , it’s important that you take steps to follow up properly. If you don’t, you’ve wasted your time and let a perfect opportunity slip through your fingers. Some people snag business cards, while others opt for an email address or phone number. Even Facebook or a LinkedIn profile can be good. Regardless, wait at least 48 hours after the initial meeting to reach out. When you do, remind the person of who you are, where you met them and what you discussed. If need be, give them a few days to respond.