We’ve all heard that networking is important at one time or another. Some of us however, are not quite sure what exactly networking is and why it is so important. I used to fall into that category so if that’s where you are or you’re not sure how to get into the whole networking business, I have some words that I hope can shed some light on your path.
What is Networking:
To keep things simple, networking is a way of establishing relationships with individuals who are likely to become colleagues in your chosen career field, or have connections to such people. Many of us have this false interpretation of networking as simply exchanging or even so merely gathering information from people. When I initially entered college almost 2 years ago, and I heard about networking, this is what I thought it was.
That was what I saw people doing and I followed, but I soon learned that it’s deeper than that. It’s good to gather information don’t get me wrong, but what happens after? What do you do with all the information? Unfortunately, this is the problem that results from having a misinterpretation of networking. You have all this information and yet no idea how to use it or even when you should use it.
The purpose of Networking:
Networking offers you the opportunity to make friends and build a community where you can learn, grow and better prepare yourself for your future endeavors. Not only that, but you are prized with being able to also reciprocate this act. Everyone has something to offer and within a network, every small piece of information is like gold. No matter how insignificant you may think it is, someone will be able to put a value on it and make great use of it.
Networks offer you the opportunity to find a mentor and to be a mentor. Through such individuals you may be able to get:
- Exclusive information on things happening in the field of your interest
- Advice on how to search for jobs in your field of interest
- Tips on tools that you need to ensure that your job search is most efficient (i.e. resume)
- Contact information of other people in your field of interest who are more experienced
How to build a Network:
Believe it or not, you already have some type of network, all you have to do is know how to properly use it and expand on it. A network does not just have to comprise of people who are in your career field, but your network should somehow provide a link or channel to your field of interest.
A network can comprise of friends, family, neighbors, classmates, alumni, school faculty, club/organization members, etc.
You can build your network, especially as a college student (as myself), by joining organizations. I am a part of three on campus organizations. One is a medical honor society which is more directly related to my field of interest, but I am also a part of a Gospel organization, and an organization focusing on leadership and community service.
Within Liberated Gospel alone, I have created lasting relationships with individuals who are in the same field of interest as myself and even those who are in other fields. I have learned so much from them and have gotten the opportunity to share the little that I know.
You’ll be surprised by who meet where. That’s why it is important to always carry yourself well and speak to people if the opportunity is presented to you. Your next job offer may just be a ‘hello’ and a smile away.
Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody, and the chain continues. That’s what networking is, knowing people and being able to create lasting relationships that build and benefit all parties in the network.