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Networking Can Change Everything
Networking is a phrase which tends to get extroverted individuals excited about meeting new people and the introverted individuals nervous. In my experience, people tend to be extroverts in some situations while introverts in others; and the ones who are extroverts in most situations proudly declare themselves as such, while the vice-versa is true for introverts. That being said, this was completely my opinion about introverts and extroverts based on observing and meeting numerous people in the professional and academic setting. In addition, this article has nothing to do with somebody being an introvert or an extrovert because as a matter of fact, networking has nothing much to do with that trait, allow me to explain.
Imagine moving to a new place with everything you own in this world packed into bags, what do you do? Do you think about being an extrovert or introvert? No! You simply call a cab and hope that you have enough room to fit everything, or you probably call movers and packers. In this scenario, you used a platform like Uber, Lyft or UHaul, among others, you requested a person’s help or services in order to reach your destination. One definition of networking is to be able to reach out to people through a platform to seek help, guidance, or their services. The secret message here is that in today’s world we are already comfortable with the concept of networking with people using available platforms, all we need to do is choose a suitable and comfortable platform and start reaching out to people.
The previous paragraph clearly states an unconventional example of networking, but the concept behind the example is to showcase that there are no “superior” communication skills which a person might need before reaching out to people. All it takes is utilizing a platform in the best possible way. I will share a real-life example with you to explain this point further. I moved to the United States in August 2021 deciding to further my education after spending 5 years in the corporate world as a software engineer. My goal was to gather as much information as I could before my first semester started in September 2021. I attended all new student conferences, they were always remotely through zoom calls because of the pandemic, however I made sure I attended them and spoke up whenever given a chance. In one of these zoom calls, I met with the office of Career Success and Experiential Education, and I received information about a platform called Handshake for the very first time. I created a Handshake profile and the very first thing I did was to request an appointment with a Career Advisor, with a goal of receiving advice regarding best steps I could take to keep me ahead with my career progress in the US. I still remember the zoom call with Miss Samantha Mon, the Career Advisor with whom I had my very first career advice appointment. Speaking with her gave me a great boost in confidence and I decided to stay in touch with her through email. I did not particularly have it in mind that I was networking with her, but subconsciously I had a simple goal of being in contact with her because she made me feel positive during our career advice appointment. Eventually after being in touch with Miss Sam for a few weeks, I applied for a job in our Career Center, and guess what, Miss Sam was interviewing me for that job and though I had gone through the complete process of two rounds of interviews, I believe that my keeping in touch with her definitely had some impact on my getting the job offer. In simple terms, yes that was networking and yes it helped me land a job in one of the best offices of our school, our career center, the Office of Career Success and Experiential Education. But I only had one goal and it was to reach out to a person who can share the information I was looking for and I remained in touch with them because it was an amazing experience for my mindset to speak with them in the first place. Which is practically what people do when their goal is networking with people to enhance their knowledge and achieve career growth.
The picture (Figure 1.0) states a simple yet powerful concept that a creature as powerful and ferocious as a shark might end up growing only 8 inches if restricted by a small fish tank, but it ends up growing up to 8 feet in an ocean.
You must be wondering what this shark was doing in our discussion about networking, but it is playing the same role as my words in the article, conveying a simple message that our state of mind affects our proficiency. If you firmly believe that networking is simply reaching out to individuals who may have more knowledge and experience than we presently have, then it will help us treat networking as a normal and healthy habit. And once you get comfortable with networking, it can change everything.
This article was contributed by Rachit Kapoor, senior career success ambassador in the office of Career Success and Experiential Education
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