When it comes to advancing your career, connections matter. As the old saying goes, it’s often not what you know, but who you know, and when it comes to succeeding in your chosen field, there’s definitely some truth to this concept. I have found jobs because of my connections so I have seen this work first hand. But, connections can be difficult to come by, especially early in your career. Unless you grew up surrounded by people who work in the same industry you want to work in, or by happenstance have friends who work in the same field, a little effort is required in order to build the connections that will prove to be so beneficial. Below, we’ve compiled a few different ways you can forge the connections you need to help you throughout your career.
#1 - Connections through in-person networking
In-person networking is one of the oldest, and most reliable, options for forming connections with those working in the same industry as you (or the industry you one day want to work in. There are countless events specifically designated as “networking events” for specific industries that you can attend, but you can also ask yourself “what kind of events would an IT professional want to go to?” - or whichever specialty is suited to your own preferences. There are often young professional organizations you may want to check out within an industry too for in-person networking events. It can be a little less intimidating when you know it will be a group of your peers. When you have a list of events that those in your desired field would likely attend, you can attend yourself and seek to talk to and network with other attendees. If the idea of heading out to an in person networking event sounds mortifying we have 4 tips to making networking easier in this post.
#2 - Connections through strong relationships with coworkers
Whether you are working in a temporary job to support your ongoing studies, or are already working full, time in your chosen field with your coworkers - and even your boss - are very important connections. In the future, there’s no predicting what your current coworkers will one day do. For example, the person you work with in a coffee shop may one day open their own business in an industry you are passionate about, which could result in them offering you a fantastic job based on your previous time working together. People like to hire those that they know well and feel they can trust. So every interaction at work from the time you start until the time you retire will matter. Make the most of those connections.
#3 - Connections through education
If you are considering further education to help realize your career goals, then the college you choose can really help you to build beneficial connections. Many schools have strong reputations in helping students to connect with industry professionals and insiders, so when which school to attend, ask yourself “which schools have a history of developing links with the IT sector?”; “what is the best music school for music industry connections?”; "which school will help me most if i want to live in Texas"; "what school has the best acceptance rate into the graduate school I want to attend?" or similar depending on your chosen field and potentially geographic location. Secondly, you will also have the opportunity to develop relationships with your classmates, some of whom may one day go on to be your future co-workers within your chosen industry. Just like your co-workers, the relationships you forge with your classmates will matter. I worked with several of my classmates in the same law firm and even office after law school so ensuring you are making those connections from the minute you step on campus matters.
If succeeding in a career is about who you know, then the options above can help you to build a strong network that will benefit your career for many years to come. If any of this sounds a little scary, we have 4 Tips to Making Networking Easier in this Youtube video you will not want to miss! We promise the investment in creating these connections is well worth your time.
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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