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Adulting 101: Networking

    • Adulting 101: Networking

      Networking opens doors to opportunities, fosters meaningful connections to others, and gives you valuable insight into yourself.

      As you get closer to embarking on a chosen career path, you’ll likely realize that who you know can be just as important as what you know. This is where networking comes into play!

      Networking is the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. (Dictionary.com)

      There are many benefits to networking, including opening yourself up to options and possibilities, increasing direct access to information and experts, and strengthening your communication and negotiation skills.

      A key component to successful networking is preparing yourself in advance for the opportunities that will arise. Here are some things you can do to get ready for meaningful interactions:

      • Practice your elevator pitch — that is, talking about yourself, your interests, and what you have to offer in the time it takes for a ride in an elevator. These short videos show examples of both effective and ineffective elevator pitches:
        First-Year Student Elevator Pitch
        Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch
      • Rehearse questions you may want to ask of someone who has more experience than you. Here’s a list of questions you could ask at a networking event, or anytime you have a chance to talk to a person of interest:
        Networking Questions
      • Consider the skills you want to develop and keep an eye out for people who exhibit them in the ways that you find admirable. Perhaps there are areas of effective communication that you want to master, like building confidence in public speaking, improving your eye contact, or initiating a conversation. Maybe you admire the art of captivating storytelling or hope to learn a particular software or artistic element to take your skills to the next level. Think about skills that can propel you to a new level, or that are easily transferable and will serve you in multiple areas of your life.
      • Self-assess regularly in order to identify areas of need, clarify goals and objectives, and tap into your passions and ambitions. Where do you hope to see yourselves in the next 6 months, following graduation, or in a year from now? What are your career goals and what types of experiences do you need in order to get hired for your ideal role? What hobbies would you like to incorporate more regularly into your routine, or allow you to influence future career moves? You don’t need all the answers, you just need a starting point.

      Initially, networking may not feel natural, but it does get easier with practice. Learn to have fun with the process of meeting new people and experiencing new things. Enjoy building your networks through your school affiliations, interest groups and clubs, and professional organizations.

      Networking begins with the people you have easy access to: teachers, coaches, neighbors, and community members, maybe even the managers of the stores and shops you visit regularly. Think about your friends and family members and who might they be able to introduce you to. There are opportunities to build your network around every corner!

      Networking is even better when it’s mutually beneficial, and when collaborations inspire growth for all involved. Another wonderful benefit is realizing that all of the knowledge and access you’ve gained can be shared with someone who’ll look to you for resources and expertise.

      RESOURCES

       

      The Introvert’s Guide to Networking in High School

      You don’t have to wait until you after high school to begin networking. From letters of recommendation to internships, you’ll benefit from starting right now!

      Isaac Serwanga Outlines the 3 Bones to Successful Networking

      Serwanga wondered, why aren’t our academic institutions teaching us the important skill of networking? Then he was tasked with teaching it to elementary school students!

      8 Tips to Networking Without Being Fake

      The more authentic you are to yourself, the more valuable (and enjoyable) your networking experiences will be.

      Reply
    • What organizations would be best for me to join to take full advantage of networking?

    • @nicolelavonne what are some ways I can network during the pandemic? Since everything is virtual now…

    • @tawnyisthecoolest I’ve been able to do some great networking through all of the various online forums/events I’ve been attending since the start of the pandemic (which I hadn’t been able to attend prior to due to time, travel and budget constraints). When I’m in a virtual gathering and find myself connecting with someone and what they’ve shared, I send them a quick message through the chat. If chat isn’t an option, I’ve been writing down names, social media handles and professional affiliations and connecting through LinkedIn, IG, etc. It’s actually been cool to feel like I have more access to folks during these times!

    • @akkimble Sororities/fraternities, and other affinity spaces/groups – I think about the Slack groups I’m a member of, i.e. for Black creatives, RJ practitioners, women in the consulting workforce; or platforms that support Black business owners (like myblackreceipt.com, HBCU affiliation groups, etc.); and then there are those that I follow via newsletter subscription, which leads to a different type of “membership”, you could say (i.e. Weeksville Heritage Center, Blackspace, etc.). I love affinity spaces, and I seek them out so I can connect to others around my interests and goals, stay abreast of relevant events, learn and grow…if you’re interested in something, chances are there’s a group of folks out there for you. And if not, it’s a great opportunity to put the word out there and create that space that you (and probably others) are looking for!

    • @akkimble Sororities/fraternities, and other affinity spaces/groups – I think about the Slack groups I’m a member of, i.e. for Black creatives, RJ practitioners, women in the consulting workforce; or platforms that support Black business owners (like myblackreceipt.com, HBCU affiliation groups, etc.); and then there are those that I follow via newsletter subscription, which leads to a different type of “membership”, you could say (i.e. Weeksville Heritage Center, Blackspace, etc.). I love affinity spaces, and I seek them out so I can connect to others around my interests and goals, stay abreast of relevant events, learn and grow…if you’re interested in something, chances are there’s a group of folks out there for you. And if not, it’s a great opportunity to put the word out there and create that space that you (and probably others) are looking for!

    • @nicolelavonne wow! that’s a really good point. Do you mind sharing what types of events you’ve been going to?

    • @tawnyisthecoolest book talks; various discussions on RJ, education, anti-racism; lots of health and wellness; nature, farming, gardening…you name it!

    • I am a serious introvert but when I started my own consulting business, I realized it was critical that I network with new people.  I started my journey by attending events held by my local Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development organizations in my city. Those structured events provided some relief to the anxiety I felt around meeting new people and allowed me to effectively build my business acumen while creating new friendships and relationships.

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What questions do you have about networking?

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