Nurturing your network
When it comes to getting out into the employment world, the most highly regarded words of advice anyone seems to give is “build a network,” without any real direction on how to do that. Networking is a very important part of your life, whether it be personal or professional; however, it’s also one of the most confusing. When we go out to build our “professional network,” it’s easy to dismiss some of our classmates and close friends because we don’t regard them as “professional.” While it’s important to keep your network full of people who inspire you, and who you aspire to be like, it’s equally important not to repudiate some of your most obliging network members. You should have a variety of different people, from different walks of life, in your network.
Your professors provide great guidance. Even if you don’t aspire to become a professor, it’s important to ensure they are a part of your network as they have connections to managers in the industry you are studying. You can nurture your networking relationship with your professor simply by being a good student. Attend classes, listen attentively, and ask questions when appropriate. Toward the end of the semester, after you have proven your integrity, try reaching out to your professor explaining to them that you are trying to build your network of professionals in your industry and are looking for some insight – you might be surprised by what they can offer you.
Your classmates share the same interests as you. Students sometimes dismiss their classmates as networking connections since they regard them as the same level of them. However, you don’t realize that your classmates probably already have jobs in the industry, or are establishing connections in a company you could be interested in. Plus, you never know down the road who will be working where. The easiest way to nurture your network with your classmates is to be supportive in group projects. Being the team member who gets their part of the project done on time will resonate with the other members and you never know what could happen in the future.
Your roommates might not be studying the same thing as you, but they are still valuable assets to your network. Similar to your classmates, you never know what your roommates could be doing after college. The easiest way to nurture your network with your roommates is to be respectful of their space. Since you have more of an intimate relationship with them, sharing the same living quarters, they will have a stronger insight into your personality when it comes time to refer a friend for a job.
Your acquaintances are the people you meet through volunteer projects, internships, and study abroad trips. Their major might be completely unrelated to you, you might not even live in the same state, but these connections end up being the most valuable! Don’t miss an opportunity to connect with these unique individuals, and the easiest way to do so is through social media.
Networking is a vital, yet commonly overlooked, part of the employment world. Everyone and anyone you ever met has the potential of making an impact in your future career, ensure it’s a positive one by nurturing your network! Professors, classmates, roommates, and even acquaintances can help you further your job search and lead to opportunities you never even knew existed. This is why it’s important you consider everyone to be a connection and make sure you nurture your network.
Jessica is a junior at Missouri State University majoring in Marketing with a minor in International Management. She will be graduating with her bachelor’s degree in December 2016, and is accepted to an accelerated Masters of Business Administration program to complete her MBA the following year. Jessica is member of Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society, Ad Club, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Fraternity.