Networking is not about collecting contacts, it is about planting relationships. When going off to college, there are three tactics that you can use to gain, maintain, and kick start your career. Through curiosity, persistence, and instinct, you will be able get your career off to the right start and build a network of great friends, colleagues, and mentors.
For Networking to be Effective, be Curious.
When I was entering my sophomore year in college, I began to build my professional network. It started in Douglas, Wyoming where I ran the social media for Wyoming Boys State, a week long summer opportunity for high school juniors from to gain knowledge about the state and its governmental structure.
At the conference, there were senators, the governor, and heads from the military all in attendance. One speaker was curious about the work I was doing for the organization and engaged me in a conversation where I spoke about my passion for social media analytics.
By being curious about this area and asking questions, I began to network. Be curious and be willing to expand your horizons. This contact I had networked with made a call, which created a snowball effect. This call would eventually shape the initial footsteps of my career. I had been in the process of interviewing at Cheyenne Frontier Days when I first made this connection, and the relationship led to an internship where I worked with talent, handled business affairs, and learned the ropes of the entertainment industry. Curiosity as a student can help to open doors that you would never have imagined, so ask questions, introduce yourself, and put in the work to build relationships.
Be Persistent - Stay Diligent in Maintaining Your Relationships.
Networking is really just a fancy way of saying relationship building. Stay in touch with people, and take time to follow up. Write handwritten thank you cards and send updates. As a college student and a young professional, you can keep your network updated through your schooling and small accomplishments. With tools like LinkedIn, you can also stay proactive. Let your network know what you are up to and make sure they know your name.
With the gentleman from Douglas, I’ve kept in touch even while moving from career to career. Keeping these connections will provide you with someone who is on your side – someone who wants to see you succeed. The best time to figure out what you really want to do is when you’re young. Network and make all the connections you can because these will get you to where you want to go.
Trust Your Instinct.
As I followed my career path, I slowly began to experience burn out – I had reached a point in my position where I had achieved all my personal goals. I knew that I was ready to move toward Denver, but faced the concern about moving somewhere when nobody knew who I was. I quickly realized tho ugh, that because of the weak connections I had, I could chase after what I wanted, and follow my instinct. I knew what I needed to do and I started researching. I quickly discovered an organization called Business Marketing Association, and owe it to the Colorado chapter for helping me get to where I am today. Similar to joining a club or an organization in college, it surrounds you with like-minded individuals who all have a passion for similar interests. I knew that mine was marketing and I needed to find how to get into the industry.
What you will find out as you begin to network is that it's not about what you know, but who you know. While attending the monthly Business Marketing Association meetings, I practiced my elevator pitch and I worked to become known. In May 2017, I attended the association’s annual gala – little did I know, I would need that elevator pitch that I had worked so hard to perfect. I met my current company there and delivered my pitched. I knew what I brought to the table and I knew how competitive the market was. I presented myself and trusted my instinct. It was spot on – after multiple rounds of interviews, I made the move to Denver. My job is now comprised of answering the question: “What makes a company a living, breathing thing in a person’s life?” and every day I get to help numerous companies achieve what they do best. This is what I had been seeking all along.
Networking is not about collecting contacts, it is about planting relationships. I was able to build a network of people who have turned into lifelong friends, colleagues, and mentors. Through curiosity, persistence, and instinct, you will be able get your career off to the right start.
Written by Ericka Patton
B.S. Marketing, 2016
University of Wyoming College of Business Graduate
For more information about Ericka's story, contact her at email@example.com
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