Networking: Your Tool to Success
There is a saying that you will become very familiar with in life as you enter university and eventually into the workforce. The saying goes: it’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know that matters.
This may not make sense to you at first glance. I’ll be the first to admit that it didn’t make sense to me at first either. After all, I had spent years trying to learn as much as I could about my specific course of study. I figured that the more knowledge I had under my belt the better my chances were at getting into a great graduate program or getting a job in my desired field. But I soon discovered that this was not the case. Don’t get me wrong, either. Knowledge is important – very important! But so is your network.
So, what is a network? A network is a person (or group of people) you interact with and exchange information with. Put simply, it consists of anyone you know and have developed a relationship with. Your network can include your family, friends, past and current colleagues, former high school teachers, past and current university professors, past and current bosses (assuming you have a good relationship with them), etc. Your network can even include people you met at the gym, coffee shop or church! The possibilities of who make up your network (and how large your network is) is only limited by the number of people you know. And I bet there are a lot of people you know in your life!
Not everyone in your network needs to know each other. What’s important, though, is that the people in your network know you and like you. It wouldn’t be a good idea to have someone in your network who speaks poorly about you. This is because a network consists of people who help (not hinder) you in your career. Let’s consider the numerous advantages of having a network. For instance, when trying to find a job, a network can:
• Provide you with internal job postings leads that may not be advertised to the general public
• Provide you with contact names (people whom you may not be able to access on your own)
• Put in a good word for you. Word-of-mouth referrals always have influence!
• Provide you with advice during your job search process
• Provide ongoing mentorship throughout your career
Often, these things are more powerful and influential than WHAT you know. Again, this is not to suggest that knowledge and expertise aren’t important – they are! But when knowledge and expertise are coupled together with a lead on an internal job posting, a word-of-mouth referral and a contact name, your chances of getting that job go up tenfold, compared to another candidate who just has the knowledge and expertise.
Remember that relationships are important, and this is no different in your personal life than it is in your professional life. So build your network and be part of someone else’s network. The benefits you reap from it are endless, especially since we live in a world where it’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know that matters!