For me, the single most important thing I have received out of all my experiences in college is the connections I have built through organizations, jobs, causal mixers and volunteer work. Yes, it is always important to get good grades in college, and to participate in extra-curriculars, but, I believe, what is more important is to make a good impression on the people you meet during this time.
There are many reasons that learning how to network is one of the best skills you will ever learn! Networking is about making connections and building a strong relationship with many different people from many different fields. You never know when you may change your mind about a career or when you may need to call on that one friend you met a while back, but that you had a huge impact on.
Networking is more than just about making business connections; it is about building trust! People hire, do business with and refer people they trust, and the only way to build this trust is by building strong relationships with the people you meet.
One mistake people make is that they may not think they are networking in casual situations, like at a restaurant for instance. However, everyone you meet, in EVERY situation could potentially be a new connection. Therefore, you must always hold yourself to a high standard and portray yourself in a positive light in all situations. From experience, most networking is done in causal, everyday conversations.
Just remember these important tips and you will be fine!
1) Be yourself—nobody wants to get an over-exaggerated or overly boastful rendition of your accomplishments and personality. Your best bet is to just be casual, honest and focus on getting to know the other person.
2) Focus on the relationship—I cannot stress enough how important it is to focus on building a relationship and not just trying to get a job! People can sense if you are being honest or if you are just trying to get something out of them. Things will go 100% better for you if a job is not your #1 goal of this friendship. Trust me!
3) You are ALWAYS networking—remember this! Always treat everyone with respect and as if they are just as important as the last person you met. Again, you never know who can help you when you least expect it or most need it!
Bianca R. Kofman is a senior at San Diego State University majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in International Studies. Originally from Monterey, California, Bianca moved to San Diego for college and will be graduating in May, hoping to pursue a career in nonprofits and international business. She joined NSCS during the spring of her freshman year at SDSU and is a member of Delta Gamma-Epsilon Sigma Chapter, Rotaract and Mortar Board. Visit her website to talk about community service, travel or business or connect with her on Linkedin. Click here to view her other writing samples and blog posts.