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Your Road Map to Networking

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Researchers at Brigham Young University Idaho argue that 75% of employment positions are acquired through social networking. 80-90% supervisors hire individuals that they have formerly known. 85-90% of jobs are never formally advertised. This means that the best jobs go to those in the know. How does one get in the know? By networking! This article is an in-depth exclusive interview with two experts on networking describing the who, what, where, and why of networking.

 Psychology graduate student Liz Redford, and undergraduate public relations major, Daniel Jackson offer great advice to help you start off your networking this year to a good start!

“What is professional/academic networking?”

D.J.: Networking is meeting and talking to individuals to help you find a job or an internship, to help you to acquire a skill, or to establish social relationship. Basically to get you to where you need to be in life. Networking might seem a little uncomfortable at first. However, the more you allow yourself to go outside of your comfort zone, the easier it is to go out and meet people.

L.R.: Networking is something that a lot of people don’t think about. They are often passive. Students coming from high school are used to passivity. In college, there is not a lot of direction. To be successful, one needs academic mentoring, and individualized attention. Most students fail to realize that higher education is all about apprenticeship, and that is difficult to come by as class sizes. Office hours are key in making it further. One can only get this from eliciting that mentorship. They key here is active participation. To be successful in college, one cannot be passive.

“Why is academic networking so important to me?”

D.J.:Networking pulls you ahead of the game, regardless of one’s major. No matter what discipline one studies, there is always something to gain from networking.  When applying for a job, it is better to know a secretary at an establishment that you want to work for than no one at all. I’ve seen it quite a few times with people that have graduated recently, where an application or a resume gets handed to the right person.

L.R.: Academic networking is important for several reasons, but it is important to define your specific reason for networking. One’s goal is going to be different per major or class level. Networking is important because you can receive advice about professors, classes to take, conferences to attend.

“Where can I find out places to network?”

D.J.: Realistically, you can network with anyone, anywhere, and at any time. Simply taking the time to have a conversation with someone is networking. You never know what you can learn from someone that you do not know. Word of mouth is often the best places to network, and through opportunities other people have presented to me. Linked In is another great place to find networking events.

L.R.: Simply going to a professor’s office hours is a fabulous way to receive mentorship from a faculty member, learn about their research, or even become a part of their research.

“Who should I focus on networking with?”

D.J.: Don’t be another groupie! It is tempting to go to the keynote speaker with the most credentials, but they are often so busy that they will not have time to adequately mentor you. For example, the teacher’s assistant may be more open to sharing knowledge about the professor or the class than the actual professor. This is mainly due to professors having such busy schedules. Most people at networking events have something interesting to contribute, whether it is an enlightening anecdote, a reference to a future opportunity, or a new friendship.

L.R.: What you should focus on depends on your goals for networking. Strategically plan what you want out of conversations, and which individuals will be best suited for you. Plan ahead, if you can. Sometimes programs offer information about the attendees of the conference

Stay tuned for more articles on networking!

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