Networking is a word that is used a lot nowadays: networking this, networking that. It’s almost used so much that the meaning is lost. The gist seems to be: it is something you should be doing and doing a lot. Networking is actually pretty simple, and yes, we agree that you should be doing it! So read on to find out what it is, why it's important, and how you can start networking now.
What is networking?
Networking, to say it simply, is meeting and forming contacts with other people in your field of business. More specifically, it is used to form business relationships and to identify, create, or even go through with business opportunities such as expanding to international markets.
Building your social capital
Your social capital is basically your social network. And no, I don’t mean your Facebook or Instagram handle or the movie. It is the people you know, the relationships you form, and the actions you do with and for each other.
Why is it important?
In today’s world, business and otherwise, networking has become extremely important. It might even be essential. Professional networks can lead to more business opportunities and might even further professional statuses. Networking often includes forming relationships with other people in your field or doing similar things as you. This means that you might even find out about job opportunities through your networking contacts.
How does networking work?
You are always networking – whether you know it or not! You probably have contacts through your family, your friends, and your classmates. Even staff, lecturers and alumni are important sources of contact.
Obviously, many of us are still students and are not even close to having any foot forward in our chosen industries. Many of us are not even close to being fully able to cook ourselves dinner. How do you expect us to network when we don’t know what we want to do with our lives? While this is true, the idea and concept of networking are what are important here.
Where can I network?
There are a few scenarios where you can actively network, for example at an internship. If you are working as an intern, you have the opportunity to meet other interns as well as learn from the employees already working at the company. Plus, if you ace your internship and make a really good impression, you will have created contacts that you can re-visit. Maybe in a year you'll want to work there again or after you've graduated you may want a full-time job at the same place you interned at 2 years before.
Another example is societies. If you are part of a university society or organisation, opportunities are being thrown at you! Not only are societies great for having a great time and completing your university experience, you also become part of a community. Many societies nowadays are very ‘legitimate’. They have connections to businesses and other organisations. If you are a writer for the student newspaper, you might have opportunities to network with the local paper, then the city paper, and maybe even a national paper. You never know. Or, if you are part of a volunteering group, you might meet people involved in NGOs. Additionally, as an international student or graduate, there are various expat groups and clubs in the Netherlands that you can join.
There are also sites that are specifically for networking like LinkedIn. LinkedIn is really helpful because you can find people with similar interests or work experience as you. Moreover, you can also see the profiles of professionals whose career you admire or want to follow. This can give you some insight into the people you should be meeting or steps you should be taking in your own life and career. Facebook is also another networking site. After all, all your 500 friends have some sort of purpose, right?
Lastly, check out any competitions that might fit your profile and through which you can prove your skills. A perfect example of this is hackathons. Hackathons are events at which you compete as an individual or team by using data for a particular purpose.
So, there you have it. Networking isn't as scary as it sounds and it's not only for working professionals. You can easily network with fellow students, in societies, or at internships. Those are just a few examples. Networking can be applied to almost any social situation! Now go out there and make some new contacts! You'll thank us later.
Do you have any wise words on networking? Let us know!