How often has this been said? It’s a cynical question, based on the belief that professional success is primarily due to connections rather than knowledge. But is it true? There’s no question millions of people can point to who they knew as the reason they have a particular job. Case in point: I’ve held 10 full-time positions since my junior year in college and was led to nine of them through people I knew, not through a “help wanted” ad (the one exception being my current job at Hofstra). Making connections through professional networking and personal friendships create an exponential increase in potential opportunities.
“Knowledge is power.”
There can be little argument with that quote. Gaining knowledge through a formal education is essential in our society, but learning beyond the classroom is just as–and is often more–important. When a person brings ideas, problem-solving skills, and sensible approaches to a job, he or she becomes very valuable. And the learning never stops; it’s why nearly every trade and professional group offers conferences, workshops and seminars designed to enhance members’ skills and knowledge.
The point is that both maxims are true. Clearly, knowing people who can help you, advise you and maybe even hire you is key. But you can’t be led to a job without having the smarts to do the job. Conversely, the most intelligent people among us face a lifetime of challenges if they don’t find ways to make connections with people in a position to support them.
It’s why I repeatedly make the case for students to experience PR outside the classroom. The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is one platform from which students can begin networking with professionals while learning more about the public relations industry. Hofstra PRSSA’s annual conference, to be held next week on Saturday, May 2, will include a half-dozen presentations in the morning and a networking lunch in the afternoon. It’s an essential opportunity for students to enhance both who they know–and what they know. Your thoughts?