The Art of Networking
By: Nicole Garcia
FTC Vice President
Florida Chapter, STC
Students looking to enter the job market hear the word over and over again. Some dread it, and some openly embrace it. Yet, what is there to the art of “networking?”
Debra Johnson guided students through the maze of networking in her February 13th presentation, titled How to Network Effectively with Professionals and Put Your Best Foot Forward … at the Summit, at STC Meetings, and in the Workplace. With students gathered around the table, Debra emphasized the importance of professional networking groups while alleviating fears behind the weighty word.
Debra began her presentation by stressing the numerous opportunities students have to network in college. “There’s never going to be a time quite like college, when you’re surrounded by thousands of amazingly smart and interesting people,” she says, “so get to know the people you think will change the world someday.” At the same time, Johnson reassured students that networking isn’t nearly as hard as it looks; most people are very willing to talk about their careers and passions. She offered the idea of a “cold email,” where students can inquire about jobs with curiosity and respect, and discussed meeting with professors for further information. “If there’s a subject area you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to go to professors in that field; they love talking about their work and meeting young people who are just as interested.” Debra also said there is great value in even the seemingly small part-time jobs and internships many students take for granted. “Today’s barista is tomorrow’s high-powered ad executive, so don’t discount anybody along the way. Use your time at work to get to know people and ask questions.”
Debra demystified the networking process for many anxious students by encouraging them to look for networking opportunities in places they may have overlooked. Debra affirmed that as long as students are willing to offer ideas, ask questions, and listen, they will find that the networking process is a lot easier than they had previously thought.