Let’s Talk About: Your Network

We’ve heard it all when it comes to networking in the Knowlton Center (“I love it”, “I loathe it”, and everything in between!).  But today, I want to talk about three of the most common statements I hear often when students talk about their personal network.

“Networking feels fake.”
If you’ve thought this, then you are doing it wrong!  Yes, formal networking events can sometimes feel this way (but they don’t have to!) but remember,  you are informally networking all the time.  Networking is simply the process of making connections and building relationships.  If networking feels fake to you, shift your mindset. Think of networking as an opportunity to learn more about someone else and their experiences and share your own experiences and goals with them.  Instead of approaching networking with the thought “I’m going to talk to this person because they might be able to get me an internship” shift your thinking to “This is an awesome opportunity to learn from someone who is doing the work I want to do.”  That mindset will not only make the conversation feel more real, but it will also likely lead to a more authentic connection which might yield future opportunities.

“I don’t have a network.”
I can 100% guarantee you that statement is false.   You are physically surrounded by your network daily – faculty, staff, alumni who visit campus, and your peers.  AND, you are virtually surrounded by your network too (there are 22,691 Alumni on LinkedIn as of this evening).  But here is the thing – you have to talk to those you are surrounded by about your career (even if you aren’t sure what you are interested in).  Talk to your professors about your career planning.  Not only do they want to see you succeed,  they know many people who graduated and are now working in the fields you might want to be in.  Talk to your peers about career topics.   They might have the same stressors you do about finding an internship or job or, they may have friends or family who you can talk to to learn more about a specific industry or field.   And don’t forget, to use LinkedIn to stay connected and have those career conversations in a place made for them!

“I’ll easily get a job/internship, I’ve got a large network”
Yes, a large network is good, but a huge number of contacts of people you don’t know and are only superficially connected with will not help you nearly as much as a smaller number of people who know you, your interests, and where you are headed.   You cannot rely on a large network alone to achieve your career goals.  Your network is there to help you with leads and connect you with opportunities, but they cannot do the work for you.  You still need to have strong foundational documents (resumes, cover letters, etc) and strong applications.  Your network can certainly help, but it’s only one tool in your toolbox.

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about what we are hearing in the Knowlton Center about Networking, make sure to connect with me -I’ll be looking for your LinkedIn invitation!

By Melanie Murphy
Melanie Murphy Director, Career Communities and Coaching