Friday, April 19, 2013

The Importance of Networking

Networking is not simply attending one of the great networking events put on by Anderson Career Services. Although those are a great start and place to meet people, there is more to networking than this. Why would someone want to network? What is the point of networking and how can it help you build a lifelong career? I see networking as the skill of being able to establish and maintain professional relationships throughout your life. These professional relationships can be with speakers you meet at seminars, professionals you may interview for class, or even with those you meet at Anderson Career Services. These relationships can benefit you when you are building your career, making a career change or obtaining advice from someone that has more or different experiences than you. Networking is all about expanding and reaching out to people that you could possibly help or receive help from, now or in the future.

Living here in Albuquerque my whole life has made me realize, even more so, the importance of networking. For example, there is always someone who knows someone that could possibly get you a foot in the door for job opportunities. I have seen from personal experience that companies are more likely to do business with others that were recommended to them from someone within their network; as well as, hire someone that has been recommended by someone they know and trust. So, when you expand your network you are essentially expanding the number of opportunities available to you that are supported by a trusted mutual professional. These connections cannot only benefit you while living here in New Mexico, but also wherever you career may take you. Networking is a web of connections that grows with every relationship you make, because one network connection exposes you to their network of professionals, which can only help you as young professionals starting to build careers.

During my time here at Anderson there have been three impacting networking experiences that have allowed me to grow my network and polish my networking skills. The first was during my second semester at Anderson. I knew that I had to start somewhere in order to secure an internship or job and build my resume before graduation. So I decided to sign up for a networking workshop with Anderson Career Services. I was terrified when I saw the Jackson Student Center full of suits. I was greeted by a bubbly personality and told, “Just grab a drink and start introducing yourself!” When I looked at her probably in shock she reassured me with a “you can do it!” So, slowly but surely with each person I approached, I learned what to say in my introduction, how to keep the conversation going and end with something along the lines of “I would love to stay in touch and get to know more about what you do, can we exchange business cards?” After that afternoon I knew that learning how to successfully network would be the key to my success. The second networking event I attended was industry specific and just as nerve-racking as the first. This experience taught me some of the “lingo” of the industry and what they were looking for in college graduates. Lastly, it was the meet the firms event put on by Beta Alpha Psi that brought both of my past two experiences together. Talking with each firm representative was like an artful dance in that you had to politely “cut-in” with other students speaking with them; gracefully guide them to seeing you know what you are talking about, and finally making them intrigued with your experience as you bow and exchange business cards. It might sound silly, but no one wants to get his or her toes stepped on and leave the conversation, or dance, feeling awkward. All it takes is a little practice and some support.

These experiences have taught me how to meet and network with professionals at charity events, graduate open houses and recruitment days, and even graduate and job interviews. Specifically, I was able to confidently walk into a room full of strangers – students, professors, industry professionals and program directors – at the University of Washington, and convince them that I was a student that they needed to have in their Masters of Hospital Administration program out of 250 other applicants. Five months later I was honored with an acceptance letter to the program. I could not have done it though without gaining the experiences and confidence to walk up to peers or professionals, establish that connection and sell my qualifications. Networking is not industry specific, it is a skill that one can use to establish relationships to grow their career and achieve personal goals.

Alyssa Hendry is pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration with a focus on Accounting and Operations. Alyssa was recently accepted to the University of Washington's Masters of Hospital Administration program. As an ambassador to Anderson Career Services, Alyssa is always available to help, so feel free to contact her at

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