Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Wait | Importance of Networking

Powers '13
By Leilani Powers '13

With only a month left to go here at Pacific University, I have found there are an infinite amount of life lessons people will tell you throughout your college years, and even your high school career, that you find to be all too true. 

Sometimes, when it’s too late to act on the advice. 

One of the lessons I caught on to just in time through my time working in the Office of Alumni Relations was the importance of networking. 

At first, I didn’t truly understand what networking really was or its importance. 
Why would knowing somebody who has been in education for the past thirty years have any influence on my career in marketing? 
Why would keeping business cards or in contact with people I hardly know be useful to me as a sophomore in college?  
What could talking to somebody for only five minutes ever do for me in the future?
Well, as many of my fellow graduating seniors may know, it’s now all about who you know when it comes to looking for work in this extremely competitive job market. In many cases, it’s about who people in your network know that may be more important. 

Because they may act as a great referral to someone in your dream employer, making a connection you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make on your own.
As I got older a common message was that building your professional network is key to being successful in this day and age. Having a vast professional network is even more important for recent graduates. The people in your network may be able to help you get your “foot in the door,” sometimes the hardest part of getting a job. 
Remember, you could have a great resume and fantastic interview skills, but if the employer’s key word search doesn’t find what it needs when scanning your resume, they won’t even look at it and you definitely won’t get an interview. However your friend, family member, or colleague who works in that firm (or similar ones in that industry) may be able to get your resume to the top of the list and personally read by the right person in the company you’re going for.

Powers '13 networking at an alumni event
While interning for the Office of Alumni Relations, I quickly learned that the people who you may meet at events like Pacific’s Speed Networking, Portland Networking Breakfast, etc. are not just people who have become successful in their field (whatever that field/industry may be), but they are alumni of Pacific University, same as I will be soon, and they truly care about students and are willing to help in anyway they are able.
In almost all the events I’ve gone to, there have been at least a handful of alumni who wouldn’t hesitate, if not insist, they connect me with a member of their network in the field or company they think would be of value to me. 
My advice I hope you heed sooner than later: if something as simple as meeting people can possibly get you the leg up when trying to advance your career, why wait? Go to as many networking events as you can wherever you are in life. Believe me, they’ll come in handy later, and if you don’t start early, you’ll kick yourself later.

Powers '13 is a business major at Pacific University and has worked in the Office of Alumni Relations as a Marketing and Communication Assistant during her time at Pacific. Powers is also the Co-President for Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow.  

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