Networking is the act of meeting and associating with contacts and making connections with individuals to strengthen your structure, both personally and professionally. Through meeting new people and attending networking events, individuals have the opportunity to add to their lists of professional contacts. Networking can be achieved through events, conferences, mixers, expos, meetings, charities, and functions. Networking can be particularly important when it comes to searching for internships or jobs, or furthering your education.
Networking is a great way to find out about internships or new employment opportunities. According to an article in Independent Business Network Incorporated, it is estimated that 55% to 80% of jobs are found through networking. When attending networking events you will likely meet several different people. It is an opportunity for you to get to know other people and exchange business cards and let others know what you excel in and what you are looking to pursue. It also allows you to learn about what other people do and what their goals are as well.
Networking can also be vital to those who are interested in furthering their education, such as applying to graduate school. If you have networked and know good contacts, they may fill you in on great graduate program opportunities. Similarly, entry into graduate school and other programs usually require applications, essays, and letters of recommendation. Networking is especially helpful if you need letters of recommendation because if you have plenty of people who know your goals and initiatives, it is likely they wouldn’t mind writing a letter of recommendation for you. Letters of recommendation also work well with new job opportunities. They can say quite a bit to hiring managers and admissions counselors who do not personally know you.
The act of meeting new people and creating a broader network of contacts can also be beneficial to those who own, manage, or run businesses and companies. This is because it allows them to meet new people and have people in mind when they are looking to hire employees, rather than having to interview and hire a stranger that they are not completely sold on.
Networking may not come easy to a lot of people. It involves meeting, conversing, and talking business with people, and for some it can be an uncomfortable situation. Since networking is extremely important, though, the best thing to do is take it one step at a time. If the thought of being around too many people scares you, try to arrive at a networking event a little early so that there are less people there. You can also consider taking a colleague with you to break the ice and for support. Like with most things, the more networking you do and open yourself up, the easier it should get.
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