In this executive member blog, Alicia K. Ticer, Vice President of Communication, reflects on the importance of building effective relationships.
As a college coed pursuing a degree in public relations, the concept of building a network has been drilled religiously. Whether by professors, young professionals in the field or my fellow peers, most people state they got their start by knowing someone previously in their organization. This is not a new concept; the U.S. Bureau of Statistics report 70% of all jobs are found through networking. And yet, while this seems like an age old concept, many still question how this is possible for a student; how do I get my start? How do I make an impression? How do I set myself apart? How do I get the job I want? As I see it, being a student is the most opportune time to begin building your network. However, it is more than “building a network,” it is creating and maintaining relationships.
“The currency of real networking is not greed, but generosity.” – Keith Ferrazzi
Many people approach networking with a “what can this person do for me,” mentality. However, this concept is one sided. In essence, networking is generally building a friendship with someone; creating common ground and seeing mutual understanding to its entirety. As young children, we create friends in the simplest ways; maybe share a cookie at recess, or even let them go before us in line for the water fountain. As we begin our professional careers, we update our methods, but we keep the same principle; be motivated by our own kindness, and reflect that to others. The older we get, the more valuable certain intangible aspects of our lives become. For example, someone’s time, expertise and connections are invaluable. Therefore, in our interactions, we need to recognize this extension of self being presented to us, and in turn, give our own time and expertise to help them as well. Moreover, share an invaluable gift with one another.
“Consistently investigate what gives people energy. Be a fan of that.” – Darren Rowse
When you invest in others, they begin to invest in you. Even small talk can expose someone’s interest; take note and remember what you are hearing. This reflects back to effective, two-way communication skills. Pause, comprehend and inquire on what your partner is saying. In a classroom setting, this means acknowledging your peers, get to know them on an individual basis. After all, you could be working with the person next to you one day; why not begin building that relationship now? Likewise, if you are interested in a certain service or group, there is no time like the present to begin participating with them. Are you passionate about helping animals? Contact your local humane society! Do not put off what you can accomplish today.
All in all, building a network is essential. It may seem daunting at first, but remember to think of it as simply making a friendship.