January 16, 2015
I was recently asked about networking and if it’s important. By gosh it really is. Whether you are just starting your career with your first job, shifting from one job to another, or are seeking clients for your business, networking is a must. At Harper College I assist students in finding jobs as well as helping local employers find skilled student applicants. So I’m a node on both the students’ networks as well as the employers.
Students need to learn that maintaining or growing a network means an investment of time. That means time to keep in contact with fellow students, time to hang out with instructors or counselors, time to donate to church or community, and time to join clubs or community organizations. It is through meaningful contact with people that opportunities may arise that could be beneficial to the student. Whether you are asking for a reference from a faculty member or inquiring about a job opportunity from a fellow club member, your personal connection with others is the key to making a significant change in your life. But none of this occurs overnight and may take months or years before opportunities may present themselves.
One of my responsibilities is to contact employers whose job postings on Harper’s job board have expired. After recently contacting one such employer by email, his response to me was Hey, let’s get together because I want to be more involved with Harper. So now we’re both new nodes on each other’s networks and we’re going to explore what opportunities a partnership between our two organizations may present.
My involvement with Boy Scouting for 14 years has yielded a huge dividend of friends that have contacts. I still see about a dozen of them monthly to keep the friendships dynamic.
And networking is not just to get employment. You may want to seek advice from someone in your sphere of influence or be asked by someone else for help, all of which may lead to long friendships and an expanding network.
So look around yourself. You probably are in close contact with many people and already have a network. You just didn’t think of them that way. Get busy and cultivate your network. You’ll be surprised at how easy it will be to find opportunities if you just invest the time.