In the “real world”, you’ll hear a lot of people comment that it’s who you know that will land you the job of your dreams, not what you know. And in most cases, this is absolutely true. This is why most business mentors emphasize the importance of networking. Young people who are new to this concept will find this to be totally unfair, especially after having spent over a decade slaving away in school and even turning down party invitations and social events just to get in the extra hours of studying and research. The idea that you chose strenuous hours behind a textbook over quality time with your friends and family because you were promised that the sacrifice would be worth it in the long run, but some slacker with the glorious gift of the gab swoops in and takes what should have been yours… yeah, I can see why you’d count that as unfair.
And as much as I don’t want to believe it, it’s true. Employers are biased just like everybody else. They feel more comfortable hiring someone they know, or someone recommended to them by someone they know. That’s why a lot of job applications want to know of you were recommended by someone already working at their company. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always matter how great your resume looks or how many hours you spent working on it.
Your mamma probably told you once or more, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” This applies here. Don’t spend all of your time in the corners of your local library. Take every opportunity to network and socialize with others. And lucky for us bookworms, this is a lot easier to do than we might have previously thought. You don’t have to throw on a fancy tie and dress shoes and attend an intimidating networking event downtown, especially if those settings make you nervous and awkward. Networking can happen anywhere. Literally! Networking can happen at the groceries store, in the movie theatre bathroom, in the classroom, at your local tire shop, seriously anywhere and with anyone! Networking just requires that you talk to the people around you. Smile at strangers, introduce yourself to your classmates and teachers, and make small talk with the person sitting next to you on the bus or train. You never know who’s connected to who or what opportunities they know of. Any person you meet can easily be the person who points you in the direction of your dreams. So think of every human interaction as a networking opportunity!