Soft Skills - Networking can open opportunities for exciting new career pathways.
For some, “networking” has a negative connotation, conjuring up images of people ingratiating themselves with everyone with whom they come into contact to climb the corporate ladder. This perception is untrue, and one can make the case that failing to network effectively—especially at the Young Professional stage—can hamper your career. Readers of TWA may already have read articles about “effective networking,” which can come across as procedural (i.e., behave this way, attend these events). In reality, networking is normal to human nature and is an innate ability we all possess.
What Is Networking? Networking is really about making friends. So much has been written about the topic that this may seem simplistic, but when it comes right down to it, adding people to your network only means making new friends. A great example applies to our college affiliation. A university’s reputation is largely based on the future success of its alumni. In turn, the schools will heavily push their “alumni network” to get you to attend in the first place. It sounds so official, but then you graduate, and all of a sudden, you are an alumnus yourself, attending various activities, meeting new people, and making new friends, who become part of your network. Later, when you need independent advice, or are looking for a referral or a new venture, you contact someone in your network. Easy.
As a matter of fact, your network is already huge—you just don’t realize it. It is not something you build after you start working. Anyone you know personally is in your network and could potentially help you by being a source of information.