It is often said that it doesn’t matter what you know—it matters who you know. There is some truth to this statement. Most people use this phrase to mean that in order to be successful, for example in your career, you have to establish relationships with people who are already “in the system,” so to speak. However, our connections with other people should not be used simply to get ahead. This type of transactional thinking leads to an empty life. It is far better to have relationships with people with whom you enjoy being. Who teach you something, from whom you learn something, whom you also have the pleasure of teaching something, who you can laugh with, talk with, and be in a mutually beneficial relationship with. Networking is a step in building meaningful relationships with other people and using their experience and wisdom to expand our own life and in turn being a part of their life’s expansion and betterment too.
Networking means finding a way and having the courage to find someone you need to talk to and then talking to them. It is never too early to start networking—even as a college student. Keep in mind that networking doesn’t just have to be for the purpose of finding a job. It can also be an opportunity to meet new people, learn their stories, get insights on the infinite paths your life can take, and just learn more about the world. Most people enjoy talking about themselves and sharing their knowledge and experiences, so reach out to people whose brains you’d like to pick. Below is a list of resources that college students can use to network.
- Your Professors. Your professors are experts in a particular subject area, so what better way to learn more about something that interests you than to talk to an expert? Professors hold office hours for their students, either by appointment or walk-in. You don’t have to be struggling with your homework to attend office hours. You just have to be curious. You can ask your professors how they ended up in their field, get their recommendations for resources you should look into to learn more, and learn more about their department. You also don’t have to be enrolled in a professor’s class to attend their office hours. So if there’s a professor whose work you admire, send them an email.
- Alumni. Alumni are great to talk to because they have been in the same position as you. Most colleges have an alumni database where you can find where a graduate is currently located, what they studied, when they graduated, and what they’re doing now. Alumni often feel a sense of loyalty to and pride in their alma maters and therefore tend to be especially excited to connect with and mentor the current students.
- Your Parents, Their Friends, and Your Friends’ Parents.
Your parents want nothing more than to see you succeed in all aspects of your life. Since the older generations generally have more life experience, they can share with you what they’ve learned over the years. This is often a good place to start since there is already an established personal connection in place and people tend to be more willing to connect with friends of friends. On another occasion, we plan to make a few comments on the timeless psychological aspects of conversations between parents and their children.
- Coaches and Counselors. Lots of people have the perception that only those with
“problems” that need to be fixed see a coach or a counselor. Not true at all. It can benefit anyone to talk to a coach or a counselor, as doing so can help with your personal development. Connecting with a coach or a counselor doesn’t mean that you’re on the wrong track, but it can help you discover different tracks or to do even better on your current track. Nobody is perfect and there is always something more to learn, no matter how much of an expert you are. Talking to a coach or counselor is an opportunity to expand your knowledge and to potentially learn more about yourself and what makes you happy.
- Social Media. LinkedIn might be the most obvious site for developing professional relationships, but you can also use Twitter to connect with interesting people from whom you want to learn. When reaching out to someone via social media, keep in mind their busy schedules—they probably won’t take more than a minute to read your message. It is therefore important to be brief while still covering all the important information. Make sure you refer to something specific in their profile when composing their message, explain why you would like to connect with them, and if possible, mention any common connections.
- Konversai. In addition to LinkedIn, Twitter, and other commonly known social media
sites, you’ll want to check out Konversai. Konversai is a knowledge-sharing platform
that allows for live video conversations with anyone anywhere about anything. It was founded under the premise that all personal knowledge is valuable and that everybody, no matter their life circumstances or where they live, has something to offer that will benefit somebody somewhere. You can network with some seriously impressive people on Konversai, including actors and actresses, business leaders, artists, athletes, coaches, teachers, and others. Come find who you are looking for or seek someone specifically. On Konversai, you can be both a provider and a seeker of knowledge. Get on Konversai today and start making connections and having conversations and making relationships that will undoubtedly enrich your life and the lives of others.