In today’s day and age, a lot of people always say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While I very much believe intelligence and hard work will get you far in life, I’ve learned that knowing the right people can make things (like applying for jobs after graduation) a whole lot less stressful. As a senior, I am in the middle of trying to figure out what I want to do after my four years at Loyola are over. Do I want to go to graduate school? Do I start applying for jobs now? Should I take a gap year to travel? I’m leaning towards the latter but what to do after graduation is a conversation for another day.
Today I want to talk about networking. Networking is often seen as this daunting task that involves a lot of painful small talk, name memorization, and a general feeling of awkwardness. While networking may feel overwhelming and seems like a chore, it doesn’t have to be. Over the years, I’ve found ways to weave networking into my daily life so that it comes naturally and actually feels *gasp* FUN. Who would have thought?
Here are a few points I want to mention to expand your view of what networking really can be:
Think of networking as making friends. Networking can be reaching out to someone who you think has a cool job or someone whose Instagram you love. I’ve “networked” with people simply because I wanted to get to know them and down the line, they knew someone who knew someone who offered me an internship position that I really wanted.
The energy you put out is the energy you receive. People will automatically gravitate towards you if you are being genuine. No one wants to connect with someone who just wants to use you to “get something out of it.” When you show genuine interest in wanting to get to know someone, learn from them, or simply just maintain a friendship–it’s pretty clear to that other person and they will be more apt to reciprocate. I’ve heard networking described as a twisted game but it doesn’t have to be.
Networking is more than just meeting new people. Networking is also about maintaining relationships. Keeping in touch with people is a relatively easy way to position yourself in a way that keeps you in the front of people’s minds. We all have mentors, professors, or just fellow students that graduated a few years before us that we can connect with. Simply scheduling a day to grab coffee and catch up often means a lot more to people than you’d expect. Every once in a while, I try to reach out to those people that I once worked with or went to school with just to show that I care about maintaining the connection.
I’m not ashamed to admit that with some of my best friends, I only became friends with because I went out of my comfort zone, DM’d them on Instagram, and asked to get coffee or lunch one day. Last year, when I was studying abroad, I met a local food blogger studying in the same city as me and we became best friends after I randomly asked to get coffee. This year, I have been on a kick of messaging people on LinkedIn expressing my interest in what they do and asking if they’d have the time to do a quick informational interview with me. Not everyone replies but I have gotten a few who are interested. Getting out of your comfort zone and just trying is all that matters. You never know who might agree to meet with you and you never know where that connection may lead you.
Once you get over the possible rejection that comes with networking, it’s fairly easy to see it as something fun and manageable to integrate into your life. I enjoy meeting and connecting with others as well as serving as a mentor for people who are younger than me or are interested in hearing about the things I do. It’s a two-way street which is what makes it really fun. Networking can be a way of life–it’s about connecting with others and maintaining that connection.
Want to get started on that networking? Attend our Welcome (Back!) to Baltimore Event this Thursday September 19 at 6PM. If you can’t make it, don’t worry! Keep an eye out on our Instagram and website for more networking events coming up.