At Drexel, the word “network” gets thrown around a lot: networking events, networking opportunities, prospective employer networking, and so on. There’s a good reason for it too. Networking is important no matter if you’re a college student (like me), new to your field of work, or a veteran in your field. A good way to network? Get involved. A good way to get involved? If your school or company has some sort of newsletter, read it, even if it’s skim reading.
The iSchool’s newsletter is how I found one wicked awesome event we now hold monthly on campus: Philly Tech Breakfast. And no, I don’t say that for the breakfast, I say that for the demos. Alright, so I’ve only been to one, but first impressions were pretty positive and as an IT student, guess what? Great networking event. Yes, networking events can be fun. They can also be pretty laid back.
While I’m sure this is going to make a few people at the SCDC scream, I’ve honestly never been to a single job fair at Drexel. That may change now that I’m going to be a Junior in the fall (up from Pre-Junior). But, there are plenty of opportunities to network with people that aren’t formal events. Hell, you don’t even need to go to an event to network. It can be as simple as getting to know the lunch trucks in your area. That’s how I became webmaster for Cupcake Carnivale (OK, in this case, dessert truck).
That said, I always have my business cards on me. Even when I’m making a run to Trader Joe’s for milk. Even when I’m just returning a book to the library. You never know when opportunity is going to present itself to you, nor how. If you don’t already have one, get yourself a business/name card. It doesn’t matter if you buy from a printer (I highly recommend Moo) or make your own (Danny Choo has a good template), but you should have something. Take the time to make it presentable too. Make it yours; if you do use a template, do something that will at least make your card stand out. Your card represents you after you meet someone. You want to stand out when interviewing for a position, right? Your business card should do the same then. Personally, I am horrible at names (I’ve gone to school with some people for three years now and I still can’t remember their name), but I remember people who stand out for something. I usually remember how or where I met someone too.
And that being said, don’t just network with people because they work in the same field as you. Network with people who share your hobbies or interests too. I’m not a musician (I’m learning piano though), but I’ve been with Zelda Reorchestrated since 2007, and that has led to some amazing opportunities, including meeting some awesome people (and more networking!)
So yes, it sounds cliché now, but networking seriously is important. It can be fun too (well, in the IT field at least, but I bet other fields have their own special things too.) You never know what it might lead to.