The Value of Networking (Relationship Building)

Before you read this blog post, pause and think about the following questions:

  • Where are you today?
  • Who along the way has helped you get to this point?
  • What barriers have you had to overcome?
  • What experiences have shaped your journey and impacted your current path?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • How can you get there?

I love learning about where people have been and where they are headed. Whenever I’m around people who are at the top of their career or can tell they are headed that way, I can’t help but wonder what their journey has looked like. In my opinion, there is so much value and opportunity for personal growth when we learn from other people’s journeys. We can learn what to do and what not to do.

It is only through relationships that we are able to truly connect with one another. This is how I view networking–relationship building. Networking is a chance to engage individuals in a meaningful and purposeful way to form a connection. The connections you make, the relationships you build, have the potential to greatly influence your journey.

The phrase “it’s not what you know but who know” holds some truth. The people you cultivate relationships with can help vouch for you. My field instructor recently told me networking simply gets your foot in the door. Once you are in the door you have to highlight your knowledge & experience (your journey) to your potential employer.

Networking does not have to be an impersonal experience where you simply hand someone your business card. Get creative! Why be afraid to highlight yourself to the world? You have so much to offer–don’t forget it! 🙂

Why wait? Start networking (relationship building) NOW! Here are some tips & ideas:

  1. Create a LinkedIn. If you already have one make sure it’s current. Keep these three things in mind: where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re headed. Take advantage of all the different avenues we have at our fingertips to build & cultivate relationships.
  2. Look at the faculty directory on the schools you are applying to. Are there professors whose research interests align with yours? Reach out to them and make contact. Express your interest in their research. If you are in the area schedule a time to meet.
  3. Follow-up with the contacts you’ve made. If you attended an event (conference, workshop etc.) and heard a speaker or spoke with someone who appeared to have similar interests as you…follow-up with them! Send them an email and make sure to mention where you heard or met them.
  4. Keep up with the contacts you’ve already made. Check in with the relationships you’ve already built and continue cultivating them.
  5. Attend local networking events!
  6. Here are some links to some webpages that might be helpful:

Relationships matter. 

Hope this helps! 🙂

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About MitzyG

I'm a 2nd year Full-Time graduate student at the UNC School of Social Work. I'm on the direct practice track and am interested in pursuing a career in healthcare social work. My favorite kind of self-care is staying in and having a 'pamper night' with a Netflix show playing on the side. My current Netflix addiction is the show New Girl (hilarious--how great is Schmidt?!)
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