“Networking” is an intimidating word for what can really be a simple concept: Building relationships and a community.
What is networking really about?
Networking is essentially about building a community of people that we rely on – and who rely on us. It is a give and take relationship that goes both ways.
- Have you ever made friends because you worked together on a class project or in a student organization?
- Ever helped a friend get a part-time job?
- Ever chatted with a stranger to pass the time?
- Ever gotten involved in a volunteer opportunity because you knew people doing it?
- You are already networking!
It all counts. Networking is about connecting with others for access to resources and opportunities. It is about gathering information and about working toward mutually desirable goals. That’s it.
Networking is NOT about asking for employment. Sharing ideas and finding ways to mutually support each other can lead to discussion of employment opportunities – but a job or internship is not the primary goal. Rather, networking is about making connections.
Also, most people like talking about themselves and sharing their hard-won expertise. People are storytellers by nature. So, simply by demonstrating curiosity and interest in another’s journey, you are already giving them something.