Networking: the ominous word that strikes fear in the hearts of students and business professionals alike.
It has become an increasingly popular behaviour in the corporate world in recent years. Many professionals believe that students should be networking while they are in school. However, not everyone understands why.
Some faculties, such as business studies, already have networking ingrained in their curriculums with group projects and events catered specifically for student networking. For individuals whose programs don’t encourage this professional mingling, however, networking may seem intimidating, or for some, unnecessary.
Surely, if networking is important, our education system would put more emphasis on it in every program. Our academic skills should be our main priority and we should still be able to find jobs without networking, right?
These were my thoughts during my undergrad. I decided to become an English major and study my two favourite interests: reading and writing.
But my program never emphasized the importance of networking, likely because there is no definitive answer as to what English majors can do after graduation. It seems to be a common thread that ties several arts majors together. For programs with more concrete career options, however, networking may seem less aimless.
It’s easy, for example, to invite business students to an event because the coordinators know what interests students have and what companies they may want to work for. What is there, however, to provide direction to those who are enrolled in programs that have a huge variety of potential career options?
Anyone could tell me that there were successful English majors out there, but no one would explain to me how to become one.
After graduating, I responded to postings online with minimal results. I then came to MacEwan University to study public relations. Here, I learned the truth.
A study done by the University of British Columbia confirmed that 80 per cent of jobs are not publicly advertised. Rather than putting a job opening online and risking hundreds of resumes being submitted within the first ten minutes after posting, many organizations will find candidates through word-of-mouth or by socializing at networking events.
Eighty-five per cent of professionals say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person business meetings and conferences, according to greatbusinesssource.org. This means your resume will have a much larger impact if you’ve spoken to a top manager in person. Overall, 41 per cent of people claim they have earned jobs through networking.
Two years ago, I thought my BA was worthless. Without networking, my skills were worth as much as a piece of paper, which is all any organization will see after receiving a resume from someone they’ve never met.
For students whose programs do not encourage networking, it’s important to pursue, regardless. While networking is often intimidating and not always encouraged, it’s a skill that is extremely valuable for those hoping to find work.
And who knows, maybe you’ll have a bit of fun while you’re at it.
Cover photo by Anthony Starks, Flickr Creative Commons.