There’s a common saying that goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Knowing certain facts and having certain skills is quite important in various industries. However, it’s the people you know who can help you get your foot in the door, make forward progress in your career, and chase the success you desire. In other words, building a strong network is paramount to career success.
The Importance of Network Building
Since networking is so essential for career success, students should begin learning how to network long before graduation. Thankfully, networking does not have to be as difficult or intimidating as you might assume. In fact, with some practice and the right connections, your network may even start to form naturally.
If you’re an NSCS member, you already have a head start when it comes to building a network. Did you know that the average NSCS member has at least 100 people in their life who like and respect them? Adam Carroll refers to these folks as your “Power 100 List.” They’re the perfect starting point when you’re beginning to think about networking and hone your skills. Throughout college and after graduation, you can continue building this list. Your Power 100 will be people who open doors for you, help you make new connections, and perhaps even invest in your future.
Strategies for Network Building
So, networking is important. But how do you get started? Adam Carroll suggests students begin by making a spreadsheet. In that spreadsheet, you should create an entry for each connection you make. List the first name, last name, and phone number of each person in your Power 100. Next, import your list into Mailchimp. With the help of Mailchimp, you can write one email and send it out to your entire network. A few times per year, write an update email, and send it out to your Power 100 via Mailchimp.
Another way to start networking is to order yourself some business cards. This way, when you meet someone new, you can hand them a card with your contact information on it. They then know how to get in touch with you, and they can keep your information on-hand for future needs. Plus, when you give someone a card, they’re likely to also give you their card. You’ll slowly amass contacts at various companies, which will prove helpful when you start looking for your first job.
Know Where You Want to Gain Experience
Another key to using your network beneficially is knowing what direction you want to head in. If you know where you want to gain more experience, then you’ll be better able to connect with the contacts who can open the right doors for you.
It’s okay if you don’t have all of the answers yet. You should still be able to choose an area which you’d like to explore more deeply. There’s plenty of time to reverse course later if you later decide to head in a different direction. But for now, picking a direction is better than remaining directionless.
Students can network with their professors, deans, chapter leaders, business people, and alumni. NSCS offers plenty of opportunities for students to meet alumni who have been successful in various fields, which can open the door to internships and career positions.
Networking is not as hard as you might imagine. By starting with your Power 100, keeping your contacts updated, and choosing a direction, you can use your contacts to your advantage. NSCS membership is a great starting point from which to build your network.