As a marketing student, I feel like all I ever hear is how important networking is. Teachers, students, and co-workers alike constantly push the idea that without a good network of contacts, you'll never get anywhere. Almost like when I started at Marquette and was told if I didn't get an internship I'd be unemployed after graduation. End of story. Seemed a little dramatic, yet terrifying to me. With each marketing or business class that I take, I begin to buy into the networking idea a little bit more. When enough people say something, we start to believe it. Yet hearing something won't make us complete believers until we experience it ourselves. Well, I definitely have.
It all started last year around this time. I was enrolled in a business etiquette class that is a requirement at Marquette. The teacher often talked about the importance of engaging with speakers and companies that come into class or onto campus. Although we may not qualify for a job at that point in our life, we may in the future. The idea was to build relationships before we might need something from that contact. I took this seriously, and made sure to speak with professionals on campus at any chance I had. Lucky for me, our classes have speakers from different companies come in all the time. I made sure to ask several questions through out the presentation (when appropriate of course), and to speak to them after. Even if I had no interest in their company, saying thank you for coming seemed to mean a lot to them.
One day in my business etiquette class, my teacher announced we would be having a speaker from Kohl's come in the next day. I knew that Kohl's was a company I was extremely interested in working for, but thought they had already finished hiring for summer internships. I did my research on the speaker anyways, and came up with a few questions that I could ask during the presentation. After the speaker finished, I followed in my usual procedure and went to say thank you. We got into a conversation about the summer internship and he told me that they were still needing to hire a few more people. I asked for his business card, and followed up the next day. Long story short, we stayed in contact throughout the entire interview process and then into my internship. Ultimately, I left my internship with a full-time offer to return after graduation. Absolutely none of this would've been possible if I had not stayed after class to talk to him.
This has definitely not been the only benefit I've seen out of networking. In a similar situation, I was able to connect with speakers of one of my classes. Currently, I am in a Sports Marketing class, and we recently had 3 NBA officials come in to speak to our class. After class, I spoke to the officials briefly and thanked them for coming in. Because I asked several questions during the presentation, they all remembered me by name and were extremely friendly. Later that evening, I received an email from my teacher stating that the officials wanted to give away a few tickets to the game, and suddenly Clark and I were on our way to a Bucks game. We sat in the 5th row completely for free. What an incredible experience that was!
Although many of my experiences happen due to in-person networking, social media is also a great tool to use. I'm taking a Digital Marketing class now, and my teacher constantly preaches the benefits of social media for networking. He actually went as far as to make us each get a Twitter. Yuck. I have been completely against twitter since day one, but unfortunately there was no way around this one. So i set up a twitter and kept up with my class reading from a book called "The Tao of Twitter". In reading only 4 chapters, I was suddenly changed. The book completely convinced me of the professional benefits that come with being on Twitter.
This is why I recently created a Twitter for this blog, and it has definitely been paying off! I have seen a huge increase in the number of viewers I have each day, as well as I have been presented with some great new opportunities. One opportunity that I'm especially excited about is the chance to write a piece for the Marquette Journal (similar to a university newspaper). After looking at my blog, they reached out to me and asked me to be featured in the March edition. I will get the chance to put together multiple outfits in a spring break theme, and provide inspiration for students traveling to many different places. I am beyond thrilled to be asked to this, and will keep you updated as it progresses!
All in all, networking is so much more than just meeting new people and saving business cards. By engaging with others and then continuing a relationship with them, you will see so many benefits. Whether you get a new career, a free sports game, or the chance to have a piece of your writing featured for many people to see, networking is always worth the time & effort.