Have you ever heard the phrase: “You betta network to boost your net worth”
If you haven’t heard that phrase before, in any iteration, consider yourself having heard it now. I believe that it comes as no surprise to many that though what you know is important, who you know is equally as important. What you know may keep you in the door, but who you know may be how you got the door open in the first place.
Now I believe that college students and up-and-coming professionals have this
misconception that networking can only take place in a professional setting, like a banquet or charity auction. There is also this misconception that networking is simply pitching yourself to people in positions that you yourself would like to be in one day. These both could not be further from the truth.
You don’t have to wait until you graduate to start your networking process. You don’t
have to wait for a formal event, and you don’t have to use it as an opportunity to pitch yourself to any person you encounter; not in the traditional sense. Networking is about establishing and cultivating relationships. These cultivated relationships open the doors to numerous possibilities. You can develop lasting friendships, discover mentors, and cement lasting partnerships.
Take daily opportunities to network. ‘Pitch’ yourself in your classes, at your church, and at that hipster coffee shop that you enjoy frequenting. Strike up conversations and get to know the people around you. Learn about their interests, learn about what makes them tick. Stay in contact with these people. Even if they may not directly benefit you currently or in the future, they may be a person of interest and you may be able to pass their information along to others.
When speaking to professionals in the industry you are aspiring to go into or are just starting in, do some research. Familiarize yourself with their work and methods. Yes, you wan to get to know them outside of who they are as a professional, but you also want to show the appreciation and value you have for their work. Being able to discuss their work with depth and complexity can sometimes be just as impressive as anything you could put on your resume.
Spend time and energy investing in people that are where you are currently. Don’t just focus on the industry royalty and stars. Talk to fellow interns, receptionists, secretaries, and other ‘underclassmen’. Time will only tell where they may be in a couple years’ time and they could be the one to offer you the big break you’ve been searching for!