By Melissa McManus
Famous American ballerina Isabella Boylston says, “You always have to put out to the universe what your dream is—that is in part how they become actualized.” You may ask, what does this have to do with networking? Well, networking is about sharing your dreams, thoughts, or expertise with others and listening to theirs as well. The idea is that you can share in someone else’s vision and assist in its fruition either by coming on board in their organization or bringing them into your organization.
In short, networking is not a one-sided venture. It is a two-way connection that has become more important than ever. We live in a hyper-connected society—it is not just what you know, but whom you know. This is a phrase many have heard before and there’s a reason for that: There is truth in it. It’s not just enough to be an expert in your field—these days, everyone is an expert in something. To make networking truly work and to make it an invaluable resource, we must be interested in other people and that interest must be genuine.
So, you might be asking yourself, How do I make these connections? With social media, it is all too easy to create a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page to reach others. And don’t forget about Instagram, Periscope, or Snapchat to really showcase what you are all about. Oftentimes, however, social media lacks the two-sided nature that effective networking truly requires.
Also important are face-to-face interactions–shaking hands and giving out business cards. In-person networking creates an instant connection that is warm and hopefully memorable in the right ways. You want to be interesting to others so they remember you and seek you out. These are the opportunities we should seize as often as possible to make the most impact.
Networking is interpersonal communication at its best and anyone can do it, even an introvert like me. It is important to remember you will get out of it what you put into it, so go full steam ahead. Seek out networking groups in your field or alumni groups at your alma mater. Volunteer for an organization you are passionate about. In the end you will be glad you made the time and effort. Put your dream out to the universe and see what you get back in return!
About the Author: Melissa McManus has five years of research experience as well as over a decade of experience working in the educational sector spanning from TK through Adult education. Melissa has a Masters in counseling, received from California State University, Fresno and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, research, writing, coaching, training, and knowledge transfer. On a more personal note, Melissa is involved in community service efforts including serving as chair of her children’s school site council, volunteering her time as an art docent, and serving in the library of her local church. In her free time when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, Crossfit, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.