Although it may be an obvious must-do for a young professional, it’s important to think of networking as a tool to advance your career for each stage of your career. Simply put, networking is the idea of meeting new people with shared interests and then building a relationship with them.
Building relationships with people isn’t easy and it takes time, especially if you aren’t naturally out-going! In the book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi, he says that relationships aren’t like cake that disappears and get smaller with every slice, but they are more like muscles that take time and work to build. Therefore, it’s important to be patient in the process of building your network.
In college, I was a graphic design major, but I understood the importance of networking. Throughout college I took a several mass communication and journalism courses because I understood how intertwined the two were, so perhaps I learned the concept of networking from one of those general ed PR classes.
Over time, my network has grown to a wide range of people with all sorts of skills like writers, videographers, photographers, and even project managers. I connect with these talented people because we have shared interests, and most of those in my network I consider good friends even outside of work.
Now as an adjunct professor at Fresno State, I see students who overlook the value of networking, instead trusting their careers to LinkedIn and Indeed posts. But finding the best career path for you might come through networking. I can even say the road to getting hired at JP may have been paved by friends I met during school that worked at the company. My good friend told me about the position and I had some of the skills to fill it. I didn’t know everything at the time, but I was willing to learn, and I was confident in my work ethic and abilities.
Here are some reasons to network after starting your career:
Exchange ideas and information with others in your field
For me, hearing what other people are doing can keep me inspired. Hearing new ideas will motivate you to grow and try new things. Plus, fresh ideas can help you stand out from others.
Conversations of your work with others can offer you new perspectives you might not have thought about. It can even spark new ideas similar to the benefits of a brainstorming session.
Boost your confidence
I consider myself an introvert and tend to be quiet around new people. Professional networking has helped me move past that fear. Once you start talking to a stranger about a shared interest, it makes the conversations easy and over time you gain more confidence in meeting new people. Remember people at these networking events are just human, too, and you might discover you have more in common with others than you think.
Reevaluate your qualifications
You can look at others in your field and examine how they reached their levels in their career. This can push you to achieve new heights in professional development. Learning from others can be a good roadmap for growth in your own career.
Networking can happen anywhere, so try and strike up conversations and meet new people. You never know what skills and knowledge people may have around you. Whether you are at a coffee shop or just at the grocery store, you can find opportunities to network.
Brandon Ocegueda, Senior Web Developer