Advice for college (or college-bound) students: relationships are career currency you must invest in.
Career success is earned through social interactions – along with hard work – much like your GPA. Your college friends (class, dorm, study hall) will be the backbone of your future possibilities. Keep this in mind as you will be told endless numbers of times over the course of your career to “get out and network”.
I realize networking conjures up images of smarmy industry encounters and clammy handshakes while balancing a small plate stacked with cubed cheese – an activity you want nothing to do with now (or in the future). Sometimes networking does require doing those things – but a lot of the time it does not. Yes, it is time to reframe “networking”.
As I share in my book at page 6, what I do know about networking is this:
- It is an essential and continual activity.
- You control the effort—but not the outcome.
- Networking is everywhere.
As a student and future professional, here’s how I want you to approach networking: every activity is a networking activity. Every interaction is a chance to build or strength a relationship. And isn’t that what networking should be? Building stronger connections so you have a community to lean into and on over the course of your career?
From your email signature line to voicemail message, don’t overlook the time you arrive for a meeting and which seat you choose in class, then there’s your headshot, Twitter handle, Instagram profile and Linkedin updates….Yes, these are all opportunities to grow your network. With a network, you give your career added adrenaline beyond your grades, knowledge and ambition.
Reframe every human encounter online and off as a networking opportunity – an opportunity to get to know, learn from and connect with another person.
And understand that your networking “activities” will change over time as you progress in your career. But know that the relationships you start building today, will be some of the most important in your entire career.
For a few more of my thoughts on networking, check out: