We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Well, I believe it’s not even who you know, but rather who knows you. Do you know who Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, and Donald Trump are? Of course you do. But do any of them know who “you” are?
My point is this, if you sit around waiting for people to find you, you’ll be waiting forever. And if you sit around waiting for handouts, all you’ll get are leftovers. It’s time to take advantage of what I consider the biggest benefit of college. . . networking.
We’ve all heard of it, but very few us know how to do it. RealWorld University has found many good sources on this topic, but I consider George Fraser’s “Success Runs In Our Race: Networking in the African American Community,” is one of the best, regardless of your race or culture.
Fraser’s definition of networking is, “The sharing of information, opportunities, resources, and ideas to help meet the needs of others.” That definition alone is the reason I think his book is one of the most influencial books I’ve ever read on networking. He redefines networking by focusing on the needs of others than ourselves. Listed below are his 10 time-tested principles of networking.
Make a commitment to network and make it a way of life.
Networking is not a skill, it’s an action. Do a little bit each day, every day, and you keep at it, building it over time. Don’t expect people to come to you, go to the people.
Set achievable goals.
Networking goals should be specific, measurable, and achievable. Your goals should also be compatible with your vision for your life. Networking is about building relationships first, not about meeting your personal needs.
Always be prepared to network.
Always be prepared for opportunities to network. Have plenty of business cards (even if they’re cheap), pens, a small notebook, and a clear agenda. Rehearse your 30-second introduction (i.e., My name is Joe Martin, I’m a student at Florida A&M University, and I’m majoring in Success with a minor in Public Relations). Be different.
Give first, expect nothing in return.
It is always better to give to your network than to receive. Think about how you can help others before you look at how they can help you. Expect nothing in return than a continued relationship that will grow.
Build rapport, don’t sell.
Never make demands on your network until you’ve established solid trust. Develop a strong line of communication first. The goal of networking is to share ideas, information, opportunities, and resources.
Be an active listener.
Ask good questions. Listen with your ears and your heart. You teach by talking, but you learn by listening.
Treat everyone with respect and courtesy.
Honor your network, from the plumbers to the professors. Treat everyone as equals, and prejudge no one.
Utilize your network.
If there is something you need, utilize your network first. If your network is not being used, it’s useless.
Keep the help line open.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be reluctant to give help when asked. Don’t be afraid to offer constructive criticism.
Give thanks to your network.
Recognize those who have offered you help. Update those who have helped you. Show your appreciation. Fraser’s principles are awesome. Through his ideas, I managed to build a successful network a few years ago of young entrepreneurs who met regularly to share ideas and opportunities with each other. Our group received media attention from the local newspaper as well as numerous inquiries from outside of our city.
If you play your cards right in college, you should never have to worry about finding a job when you graduate. It’s never too early or too late to start networking. Remember, your goal is to network to help others. Even if you don’t have anything to offer them (which I think is almost impossible), introduce them to someone you know who could.
Look forward to much more information on this topic from RealWorld University. We’ll be bringing you information, ideas, and strategies from some of the world’s leading experts and authorities in this field and many others. We believe that experience may be a good teacher, but other people’s experience is a better teacher. Our motto at RWU is, “The key to wisdom is knowing where to look for the answers.” Thanks for dropping by RealWorld University. Come back soon, and tell a friend. Remember to live purposefully. God bless!