The saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is probably one of the most important phrases we’ll need to come to understand during our years in college. It’s very important for students to be more proactive when it comes to our education and our future. It’s not as easy for us to go to school for four years, then head straight into the workforce.
In order to better prepare for the many uncertainties after we graduate, we should network and build connections while we’re still in school. By networking, you’re working to secure a reputation with the people you meet in order to provide yourself with future opportunities.
Because futures are uncertain, and there’s so many possibilities and outcomes to be had and so many paths to take, you should explore them. Get first hand knowledge from the people in those fields, or learn about the unconventional paths they may have taken to get to where they’re at.
Networking can also give you peace of mind. It can give you some ideas, connections and foundations that help make you feel more secure in the decisions you make while you’re in school.
But how do you network?
Networking can be as small as reaching out to your professors. It’s a good idea to reach out to them to simply “pick their brain.” Within our majors, there’s so many different routes you can take, and it’s nice to see what options are available for the future.
By seeking out professional guidance, you’re also able to build up a repertoire with them. You can also get great advice from them, or job opportunities through some of the connections they may have within their professional community.
UK also holds events that could be used as networking opportunities. Earlier this semester, a Lexington Professionals Networking lunch was held, and on Nov. 27 there will be a Minority Professionals Banquet. These are the type of events students should definitely take advantage of during their time here, and in college.
Students should also join and attend organization meetings. Meetings that fit within your educational or social interest often have students that may information you of great opportunities. For example, within some of the politically driven clubs on UK’s campus, there were students involved with the campaigning aspects of our last state election, so a lot of students that weren’t initially involved in campaigning were able to contribute through networking. When you attend organization meetings on campus, mingle with people and try to build professional relationships.
Other ways to network could include searching the internet for local networking events in the area and attending alumni sponsored or scheduled event on campus.
So when should we start to network?
There’s no set time when you absolutely should to start networking. You can start immediately, or wait. The early bird in most cases does get the worm, but understandably, there’s not enough time everyday to get everything finished we need to. Because networking has been made a bit easier through technology, you don’t necessarily have to take hours out of your schedule to force awkward conversations with people in hopes of somehow stumbling into someone offering an internship.
Although you don’t have to start networking now, you shouldn’t put it off for too long. The sooner you start networking, the better your chances will be in make more and better connections.
Where should we network?
Networking can happen anywhere. That’s why it’s always important to try to put your best foot forward every time you meet someone new, because you never know about the opportunities that are yet to be discovered.
Who should we network with?
You should network with everyone. Every encounter you have with new people is the chance for new connections and more information. There’s always going to be people that know things you don’t.
By maintaining a professional attitude with peers and staff, they could be willing to help you out in your endeavors.
Don’t just limit yourself to your field, either. Make friends anywhere and everywhere, because this helps build relationships, gives you more options and gives opportunities for people to write recommendations for you when you may need them.
You don’t have to walk around with business cards 24/7, but keep in mind the value of networking. Although networking is very important, don’t let it stress you out. The opportunities will come your way.
Networking occurs in some of the most unlikely events or circumstances. Start small by building up a resume, and maybe create a LinkedIn profile. Over time, the connections will come together for you.