Making the Most of Networking Opportunities

by Eric McCray

Being an intern on a team of recruiting professionals has definitely allowed me to take advantage of opportunities to learn about local companies, but also to meet area professionals in the field that I am so passionate about. As I continue to develop my resume and career path, I am continually finding that I am able to further affirm how powerful it can be to develop a strong and talented network, but also an online presence – especially when it becomes time to job search. I now understand that while it may be uncomfortable at first, showing the audacity to step up and offer fellowship to someone with higher credentials often times offers a much greater impression to the upper-echelon.

Recently I have noticed all the networking that my internship supervisor engages in on a daily basis. Though she often encourages me to reach out to individuals who would make a great connection for me with my current job search, she has allowed me to take my time with the process as I pick-and-choose which individuals I want to extend a hand to. This past week I have been exercising the practice of reaching out to others who hold higher positions much more than I ever have. And I must say, I have no regrets for acting in this courageous way. Each individual that I have reached out to has responded with an open mind, willing to share a conversation of one topic or another. If I would have known how easy this is years ago, my network would be twice the size it is now. With that said, I think networking is made easier with the help of networking events and social networking sites. Though we’ve all heard examples of when these sites have hurt a job candidate’s opportunity to secure an interview or job position, I have found that utilizing these sites the right way usually promotes the online presence of the job seeker more often than not.

SOCIAL NETWORKING:
It goes much further than having a profile for each of the most common social media sites. I think every recent college grad my age has at least one profile available for all to see on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. But I notice that many that don’t actually have profiles on professional sites, or have accounts that are utilized for professional means. A LinkedIn profile, for me, has come a long way. I remember creating my profile years ago, as a freshman at Ball State. I initially developed my profile making it as complete as possible, but thinking that I needed a ton of connections to make sure my profile would be seen. I was hesitant to accept connections that I was unfamiliar with, but often times considered them as future job opportunities. What good are connections that you don’t know though? I think it’s very easy to identify those profiles that have hundreds of contacts – so many contacts that the exact number of contacts doesn’t even appear. Instead of an actual number, the profile displays something like “500+.” In reality, it doesn’t matter if you have a million connections. If those connections aren’t helping share your professional progress and image, they’re a waste of space on your profile. LinkedIn has helped me tremendously helped me to develop my professional network, and I’m happy to share that I know all of my connections.

As I continue to develop my career as a young professional in HR, I think my argument will continue to press. Back in high school and early college, I remember hearing the word “network” as if it were my first name. I recall the reluctance that I had back then, and I am now regretting it because of my current enjoyment for it. If you’re like I once was, find the courage to reach your hand out to connect with someone in a role that you’re interested in. What’s the worst that could happen? Best of luck!

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