Every college student hears over and over again to “build your network” or “go talk to people.” What does that really mean, though? How does one actually “build their network?”
Building your network is an integral part of landing jobs and building your career. Did you know that around 80% of all available jobs aren’t even posted? Most jobs now can only be acquired through a network and/or word of mouth. That is why the more people you know, the more opportunities you have. However, building a strong network isn’t just meeting and knowing as many people possible. It is about finding and maintaining quality connections.
Think about people you know right now. Then, think of all the people those people know. Your network is a lot larger than you may think. It could be your best friend from home whose uncle works for your dream marketing company. Many students think to themselves, her uncle doesn’t know who I am, why would they want to talk to me? WHY NOT?! Get her Uncle’s email and introduce yourself and ask questions now. Tell him why you are so interested and what you have done so far in your life. Ask what suggestions he has for classes to take or clubs to join that would help improve your resume. Reach out to people now when you don’t need a job tomorrow, so you can later call on your connections when you need an “in” or reference for a job.
From personal experience, my network has helped me get where I am now. I spent my entire summer of 2014 talking and networking with respected businessmen and women. I spoke to my neighbor who is an extremely successful entrepreneur about her experiences and advice for me. Another day I met with my friend’s Dad who works in Logistics of Limited brands. Lastly, I used my Uncle as a reference and was able to speak with three other professionals in the business world. Now, after talking with those people, I not only built my network, but was able to gain confidence in the career path I am currently on.
In the end, you can build and use your network however you like, but it is up to you to be the one to actually build and use it. So get out there and start networking!
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