By Brandon Nunley
Networking is a valuable skill. Often overlooked because of the anxiety of talking to someone new, networking can be a great practice leading to lifelong relationships and opportunities. Building relationships is important for anyone but can be especially helpful for students. Students can gain mentors, internships, and even jobs by practicing networking.
Overcoming Networking Anxiety
Networking is a skill often undervalued once practiced. It may be seen as scary to some due to reaching out to new people. Being shy can be human nature, but overcoming this fear is essential to building new relationships within both casual and professional settings. Overcoming the anxiety of speaking to someone new can open a whole world of opportunities.
To aid in getting over the obstacle, start small. The first connection you make doesn’t have to be a CEO or VP. Something as simple as talking to someone in your field of interest can begin your networking journey. It may also be beneficial to start networking in a large social setting such as a convention or job fair. Both will indeed have plenty of people to meet and begin acquaintance with. Using who you already know can also be a great tool in networking. Perhaps a friend or a co-worker can help introduce you to someone you want to meet.
The Benefits of Networking
The benefits of networking are never-ending. Jobs, internships, and apprenticeships alike can all come from the work of a single conversation. Not every person you talk to will offer you a job, but the likelihood increases the more people you talk to. Expanding your personal and professional relationships can bring new opportunities from places you may have never expected. Networking does not only lead to opportunities but to knowledge as well.
By finding a mentor or acquaintance in the field you are interested in, you can learn from someone already experienced. When in doubt about certain aspects of a job field or field of study, reach out to someone you know in the area instead of a google search. By reaching out and showing interest, you are showing the person you are reaching out to that you have the will to learn and grow.
When? Where? How?
Networking is becoming easier and easier as technology becomes more prevalent. Email, Linkedin, or even direct messaging are great ways to communicate with others in your field of interest. With the growth of social media, your Instagram or Facebook page could be the first impression of you to a potential employer. Using your page to showcase and highlight your interests in skills is valuable.
Conventions, job fairs, and summits related to your interests are also great places to meet new connections in person. Students have many people on campus, like professors, librarians, and even other students, that can help them begin networking. These are all great resources available to students that should be noticed.
How Networking Has Helped Me
I am a firm believer in networking. I have built many lifelong connections by being courageous enough to reach out to others and ask questions. I plan to teach at the high school level after graduation from King and have asked advice from my past teachers and current professors on things I needed help better understanding.
Reaching out and re-kindling these connections has benefited me with knowledge and help along my journey to teaching. I have an immense passion for motorsports and particularly motorsport media. Through reaching out to people in the field, I have learned a lot about the world of motorsport media. I have even gained internships with premier dirt racing companies xrevents.com and Kingsport Speedway.
The connections I have made within education and motorsport media have proven invaluable. I am a big advocate of networking, and you should be too.