This week has had moments that reminded me just how important networking can be. On Tuesday I had lunch with an old friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in years. As we were talking about this place that we used to volunteer at, she remembered that they recently posted a listing for an internship that she thought that I would be interested in. Yesterday, I met up with a former classmate and when I mentioned that I was looking for a job, she gave me her colleague’s information so that I could contact him about a potential opportunity. I used to think that networking was something where people flattered each other just to get ahead in their careers, but it’s really just about communicating with someone who shares common ground. A  boost in one’s career may be a side effect of this, but it shouldn’t be the sole purpose for networking.

I have been to so many networking events that I’ve lost count. I can’t tell you how many presentations I’ve sat through before, during, and after attending UCF, and how much information I’ve taken in about creating my own network. The most unforgettable and informative networking event that I attended was a presentation by Julio Rocha, an entrepreneur who founded the Rocha Financial Group. I used to believe that networking had to be based on mingling with people who could help me advance in my career. This thought lingering in the back of my mind made me feel disingenuous when networking at events and with professors. Rocha’s presentation really helped me alter the way that I built professional relationships in my network. He transformed my definition of networking from an intimidating word to one that simply meant communicating with other professionals that share one’s common interests. With that sort of definition of networking under my belt, I realized that I had actually been networking my whole life. Throughout all of high school and college, when I made friends in my classes, I not only grew with them personally, but professionally. I studied with most of them for whatever classes we shared and we worked on group projects together whenever they were assigned. We helped each other understand subjects that confused us and worked together to reach a common goal- to learn and succeed. This is exactly how a professional network should be built- out of mutual trust, professional interests, and goals.

I love networking. It’s a way to discover new opportunities, meet new people, and learn more about a field. Although my job search has been a tedious and tiring process lately, this recent networking that I did turned out to be very important in rejuvenating my job search. Through these experiences, I relearned how important networking is for my professional and personal life. It made me hungry for more professional stimulation, making me more excited to continue my job search until I find what I’m looking for.

What does networking mean to you? How do you network? Leave a reply below!

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