It’s my one year college graduation anniversary!
Who celebrates things like that? ME! I do. I worked my tail off to graduate college and I’ve already been out of school an entire year. Wow. I swear the older I get the faster time flies.
If you’ve been reading for a little while, you’d know (through this post) that I recently started working my first full-time, in-my-field job. While I was on the search for work, it felt like it would never happen. I was applying everywhere I could think of and I was constantly making edits to my resume and portfolio in hopes to add something that would catch anyone’s attention. A day didn’t go by without me signing into LinkedIn at least ten times. It was tough, but I worked towards it without giving up (see this, then this issue). In today’s issue, I want to share my view on how the connections you make play a part in where you end up professionally.
Many people don’t like to network and while I can’t say that I love it, I can’t say that I hate it. In my final three semesters in school, I began actively networking with professionals in my field because that’s what I was advised to do. I knew I needed a job after graduating, so I listened to the advice that was given to me. It wasn’t bad, I promise.
Here’s what I did.
Because I’m more of a one-on-one kind of person, instead of going to networking events, I researched people in my area that were in the position that I’d one day like to be in. I would find their email address and contact them to see if I can get some one-on-one time with them. This sounds a little like stalking and it is, but not in a creepy way. If I researched a person enough, I was able to decide whether or not I was interested in meeting with them. This made networking easy for me because I decided if I wanted to meet with someone instead of being thrown at them like at a networking event. This allowed me to avoid any awkward in person encounters.
Post graduation, I found an internship program that I heard about from my hairstylist. Yes, my hairstylist. I went in for my scheduled trim and she told me all about it. It wasn’t too ironic, though, because she was in the same field as me before setting that aside to follow her passion; hair. But still, of all the professionals that I was connecting with and had promised to keep in touch with, my hairstylist came as a bit of a surprise. It is important to keep an open mind about the people you meet. Everyone you meet. Case in point.
Though I’ve never heard anyone say that the connections they made didn’t help them, I haven’t heard of anyone being hurt by them either. My hairstylist gave me the gem that I believe helped me get to where I am today. I strongly believe that if I hadn’t been informed of, applied to, persevered through, and completed that internship program, my resume and portfolio would not have stood out to my current employer or anyone I interviewed with while I was job hunting.
But all the hard work isn’t in the hands of other people. You are in charge of making the connections that will put you in front of the right people. Seasoned professionals have a wider network and if you don’t reach out to one, you won’t reach any.
Shortly after accepting my job offer I thought to myself, “no one that I reached out to in the past year helped me get this job.” That is a completely wrong mindset to be in. Although none of the connections I made had any direct say-so or recommendation in the position I’m in today, that doesn’t mean they’re useless. I can always reconnect with them later on in my career. I plan to.
Now, go out and network. Find a tactic that works for you and get yourself out there. No one will do it for you. If you’re still in school, take advantage of that. My professors would always tell my peers and I that not many people will say no to a student who is eager to learn. I found that to be 100% true. Draft an email. Draft it again. Make sure it sounds professional. Close your eyes. Hit send. Watch the magic happen.
I would also strongly suggest a LinkedIn account. It is a good way to keep up with the people that you’ve met and makes it easier to reconnect with there after some time has passed.
Although I am employed, I will always continue to network and make connections with anyone who can help me shape my goals or introduce me to new ones. To be honest, I have to remind myself of that.
How do you feel about networking? How has it ever worked in your favor? Leave your comments below so we can continue the conversation.
P.S. Congrats to all those graduating from my Alma Mater today! You did it!