James Lang, writing at The Chronicle of Higher Education, discusses the importance of networking and the importance of teaching undergraduates how to network.
This is a tough one. I have always understood myself to be a decent networker, but how does one teach undergraduates how to do it? Frankly, I have no idea. Lang is not sure either and has asked his readers to offer some suggestions in the comment section of his article.
Here is a taste of his piece:
…By the same token, I have come to understand that helping students get into graduate school or get jobs is part of my responsibility, too. They didn’t pay all of that tuition money to come to a small, liberal-arts college only to be kicked out the door at the end of my seminar without a second thought for their futures. And I do my share of advising students about graduate school, writing letters of recommendation, and responding to any requests for help from graduating seniors or recent graduates.
But if the lessons I learned about networking last month in Montreal are correct, then I am not doing nearly as much as I could to help them understand the importance of this basic skill.
Acknowledging that doesn’t help me come up with any concrete steps I could take in or out of the classroom, though. Even if I can see how helpful it would be to teach my senior majors the importance of career networking, and help them get started on it, I don’t have a clear vision of what that lesson would look like.
Tom Van Dyke says
I make my living “networking,” really.
Part of it is genuinely listening to what the other person has to offer: networking must be a two-way street, after all, the possibility that you can do the other person some good.
By taking the time to learn what they're about and “get” them, you're just another person out there in their own “network” who knows and appreciates why they are unique, and might be just the right man or woman for the job, somewhere, sometime.
The other part is the mirror image, and that starts with Know Thyself—what you're good at, what you're passionate about. When we're good at what we're passionate about, well, that makes us the best man for the job.
Talking about oneself is usually the part that comes more easily with most folks. Although not all. Some folks are too shy to “sell” themselves—and “sell” is sometimes too pushy—so think of it as just being honest about your strengths and passions.
I mean, if you can't be passionate about your passions, then they ain't really passions atall!
Hope this helps.