Networking skills are key to anyone’s navigation through career life. The way a person utilises his/her networking skills, plays an important role in enhancing career success. It is with this profound reason that I seek to enlighten the students on the importance of networking and how to network. I strongly believe that it is important to nurture the student’s with relevant networking skills before they venture into career life. Personally, I used my networking skills to navigate my career by building good working relationships with individuals who could assist me function effectively. As a campus student, I engaged in various professional associations, alumni alliances, clubs, as well as personal interest communities, which enabled me to acquire new perspectives that assisted me to advance in my career. I gathered many contacts, which offered me recommendations, information, and developmental support like training and mentoring. Personal contacts were vital since they assisted me to reach the far-off individual who had the information I required. I attribute my career success to the strong networking skills and would thereby like to pass this vital lesson to the young students who would begin to learn and embrace the skills of networking.
As an essential aspect of career life, networking will enable students to develop connections with professionals and other students pursuing a similar field. Thus, a student would befit from interacting with the erudite professionals as they would amass relevant knowledge that are vital for career success. Indeed, the additional knowledge gained from the erudite professionals would enable the students to hone certain key skills before heading out into their potential career. As a matter of fact, I built outside-inside connections by utilizing my functional interests and expertise. While still a campus student, I participated in several formal and informal meetings with erudite professionals from different organizations. Through these career meetings I clearly understood the secret of enhancing my record keeping and adopting a network management tool. I would thereby advise students to develop keen interest on attending and participating in various career fair events. Attending such career programs would assist the student to gain relevant information that would enable the students to make wise career choices in the near future. Additionally, the students would gain key insights on what it actually takes to develop a successful career.
Referrals are essential to students who hope to pursue a career in specific fields. An individual can only gain a referral if he or she portrayed strong networking skills. It is thereby prudent for students to develop strong networking skills so as to develop a professional relationship with different professionals who would be delighted to be acknowledged as the student’s referees. In fact, the student would be alleviated from the hurdles associated with selecting a referee during the critical time of applying for jobs. Therefore, students who already networked with different professionals during their school year are able to get an upper hand during job applications. More so, final year campus students ought to develop professional relationship with different professionals who would mentor them as they venture into career life.
For example, when asked about my summer arrangements, I mentioned a class I loved or an interest I wanted to pursue. I exploited my chances using simple but thoughtful relations with others. I contacted individuals I knew and showed them my interest in discovering a career option and searching for an internship or job. Whenever I made new contacts, I inquired whether they could find time to discuss with me about their career path. I was always ready to introduce myself and the skills I had acquired. Moreover, I made good use of numerous opportunities available for interacting with alumni, such as on-campus speeches and externships. I preferred seeking for a career advice and offering to volunteer or job shadow rather than calling alumni and requesting for a job. I consulted a career advisor concerning my approach prior to contacting alumni. I asked my associates for other contacts in my field of interest and did follow up. I learned to practice what they said, thanked them, and kept in touch (de Janasz & Forret, 2008).
Besides getting a referral letter, networking will enable the students to be informed of different job vacancies which may have been internally advertised. The referral letter or connection created by the student during a career fair will assist the student to get foot in the door and an offer to the desired job position. Networking takes place anytime, and I was ready with an introduction that concisely defined my interests, goals, as well as skills. In order to develop a vibrant self-introduction, the student has to develop his/her own career goals. For example, I wanted to clearly understand certain jobs and ways of applying particular skills. I was prepared to discuss my most important information, for example, a previous internship or employment in the field, why I was interested in a certain newspaper article, and transferable skills I had acquired through a student club.
Whenever I planned to meet a new person, I ensured that my goals were clear. I identified the outcomes I wished to obtain from the meeting. In order to stay focused, a student needs to comprehend what he or she to achieve a specific goal (Friar & Eddleston, 2007). In order to develop a fruitful networking process, a student needs to comprehend the importance of first impression. During my first years of networking, I organized and selected an outfit that would make me feel good. This assisted me in showing confidence in any uncomfortable surrounding. I knew the importance of carrying business cards with me. Therefore, I stored the cards in a card case to keep them clean and take them away easily when required. I thereby seek to enlighten the students on the importance of being organized and how they would create a good and lasting first impression. I would also like to teach the students on how they could create an excellent and informative business card and how important it is for them to embrace the culture of giving out business cards to persons who they will consider to be of career help.
As a student, I never knew the importance of creating a long lasting first impression until period where I created a wrong impression during my first interview. Since some opportunities come only once, I would like to inform the students on how the can create a good first impression that would eventually lead to positive results. For instance, when introducing myself to a new person, I would maintain eye contact, smile, state my first and last name, and offer a firm but brief handshake. I always got the other person’s name and mentioned it two times when speaking. This assisted me in remembering the name and showing my sincerity and interest in the conversation (Ibarra & Hunter, 2007). I thereby seek to inform the students on the importance of each and every event that would help in marking a stellar first impression.
One of the networking secrets is allowing the other person to speak first. An individual who talks about him/herself first is often half listened to. When the person worries about what to say during her turn, he/she will only be somewhat tuning in to what you are saying. During events such as career fair and career development programs, a student is advised to do prior research before writing down questions that she/he would ask the professionals so as to get more clarifications. A student is thereby required to develop good questions to use in such events, and in order to show that he/she interested in specific career fields. To break the ice, a student may enquire more on a person’s professional background and how he/she climbed the career ladder.
Networking is an important tool in job search, and preparing for the event, being professional while there, and proactive with your follow-up yield effective results. It is always important to nurture the students with key networking skills that would eventually enable them to dictate their own future as they pursue specific careers, all thanks to their strong networking capabilities. Thank you for reading this information, and feel free to contact me in case of any questions.
de Janasz, S. C., & Forret, M. L. (2008). Learning the Art of Networking: A Critical Skill for Enhancing Social Capital and Career Success. Journal of management education, 32(5), 629-650.
Friar, J. H., & Eddleston, K. A. (2007). Making Connections for Success: A Networking Exercise. Journal of Management Education, 31(1), 104-127.
Ibarra, H., & Hunter, M. (2007). How Leaders Create and Use Networks. MTI FOUNDATION DAY, 35(1), 10