There is one skill that stands out to me and that I see as one of the most valuable skills to have. That skill is the ability to make connections and network. Have you ever heard of the quote, “It’s about who you know?” I’ve come to realize how true that is.
Why is networking so important? Here is a list of how it’s so powerful:
1. You are given the chance to learn from this person.
Whether this person is the same major/department at work, or on a completely different path, you can learn something from almost anyone. By simply talking to someone for a few minutes, you can easily learn a fun fact. Reaching out and asking people to meet/have lunch with you is the best way to learn about what they know. You get a whole hour or so to ask questions.
2. This person might know someone else that you might click with.
There have been multiple times where after chatting with someone, they would comment, “You know, I can see (this person) being a good connection for you!” After meeting them, I realize how right they were. So many connections are made by a previous connection. See where this is going?
3. You might need this person later on in life.
Think about where you may be in 10 or even 20 years. You may be in the same job, but you may be looking to switch jobs. Knowing people will help in that job search. Even if you’re in the same job, you may need someone to get involved in a volunteering opportunity or organization, or that person may come work at your company. You never know the possibilities and that’s why it’s always important to have a good group of people to be able to go to.
4. You gain so many more opportunities.
Going off of what I said before, your connections can give you opportunities you would have never thought of before. I never thought I’d be an organizer for the Random Acts of Kindness Club, and how did I get that? By reaching out to coworkers during my internship. I can’t imagine how many opportunities I would have missed out on if I didn’t reach out or go to an event.
5. Most importantly, if you hadn’t made a connection, your life might be completely different.
I know how true this is for me. If I didn’t go out of my comfort zone and attend a mentor meet and greet my freshman year, I wouldn’t have met my mentor who offered me my first internship. That internship led to another one, which all helped me get a summer internship and so on.
One connection can be so valuable. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Reach out to someone that you look up to or that you want to learn from. It won’t be awkward. People love talking about their passions and it’s a compliment to them that you want to learn from them. You may even have people wanting to learn from you. It’s a wonderful process.