“It’s not WHAT you know but rather WHO you know.” Powerful words from CEO Fields Jackson Jr., Chief Cheerleader & Talent Scout of Racing Toward Diversity, rang across the room.
Fields, like many, understood the immense value networking has to offer. At the end of the day, if you continue to fish in the same pond, you will continue to catch the same fish. The same applies to people. Surrounding yourself with the same people often yields the same answer. Henceforth, there is no quantifiable determinant for the immense value networking offers.
Surrounded by other members from across the country, I began to ponder. The unprecedented surge of degree inflation has transformed the job market into a much more competitive landscape than it was a decade ago. Bachelor degrees are not simply enough to discern yourself from others in the room. The standard for education in the United States has escalated to the point that four-year degrees have become compulsory for nearly every role.
We live in a challenging era. Vacant employment positions with superior compensation and benefits are in high demand. With limited upper echelon roles, separating yourself from other prospective candidates can be challenging.
So how can an individual set themselves apart from the rest of the pack?
As I alluded to earlier, the answer is simple, network. Despite being somewhat of an oxymoron, branching outside of your comfort zone and connecting with people around you is the tried and true formula for curating new opportunities.
Networking can happen anywhere, at your institution, workplace, church, park, or even the gym. Effective networking has proven to be the successful solution for distancing yourself from the competition. Individuals who have consistently networked over time possess the advantage of expanding with minimal effort due to the paths opened to them through connections with others.
The same is justifiable from my time in North Carolina. During my tenure in Charlotte, I had the opportunity to have dinner with various young business professionals in the area, ranging from strategic finance agents to community engagement officers. Our discourse gave insight into intriguing careers and opportunities for advancement in those fields.
Ultimately, I walked away and gained personal and strategic advice to advance my own future because of these conversations and experiences.
“Color Your Own Book”
Arguably the most undervalued aspect of the college experience is networking. Often taken for granted, many students don’t realize the benefits after graduation. I would strongly urge everyone, especially students, to take a moment to evaluate their network. After all, your network is your net-worth.