They (whoever they are) say that it’s not what you know but who you know. I (your author) say that it’s what you AND who you know. Both, with rare exception, go hand-in-hand with professional success.
You cannot hear it–or practice it–too often. The more you network, the more opportunities you create for yourself. What gets overlooked sometimes is WHERE you should be networking. Generally, we think of networking as something we do at a planned event: we go to a conference or a workshop held by a professional organization or we attend an event designed for the sole purpose of networking. But many professionals and students fail to realize that networking happens everywhere. Whether you’re in a classroom, at a social event, in a lecture hall or during an internship, one should always be networking… making introductions, saving contact information and forming relationships.
My personal experience with networking is a tribute to its effectiveness. I got my first job through a former classmate, made several subsequent career moves through the professional contacts I had made, found a lot of freelance work through associates in the professional PR organization in which I’d become active, and continue to help myself and others by enhancing relationships through social and face-to-face networking. Networking has given me countless opportunities, lifelong professional relationships, and–best of all–friendships.
Of course, you have to back up who you know with what you know. Your on-the-job performance is paramount to creating a professional reputation. And it means that your reputation will spread as your network grows. So whatever your current or planned profession, write down every name, follow-up with every contact and actively pursue avenues where you can network. It makes a huge and very positive difference in a career. Your thoughts?