That word always makes me feel like I should instantly be wearing a suit and shaking hands. Ew. It doesn’t have to be like that, though. Networking is just a fancy word for getting to know people and allowing them to know you, in a professional sense. I have never been, and don’t ever expect to be, a particularly competitive person, but I have realized that who you know has a huge bearing on what you get to do in this life. For example, one of the requirements of my graduate program is an internship and, of course, I waited until the last minute to nail one down, banking on one from the organization I had been volunteering for. Cut to an email from the operations manager of the organization telling me that they weren’t originally offering one, but that one came open in marketing. All I had to do was send in some of my design work, and the usual cover letter/resume shebang.
That’s the way I like to make connections with people: by creating relationships that allow them to see your talents and figuring out ways to offer them. And, if it’s meant to happen, they’ll remember you! Talking to people can be a problem for me when I’m feeling insecure about my skills. It’s something I have to get over because the only way people are going to know what you can do is if you let them know and are able to back it up. Simple. The way to be confident in your skills is if you’re honing them regularly. Right now, I’m a bit insecure about my dancing, which I claim as one of my skills. However, I have not danced consistently in years. The solution to this problem is to get into someone’s studio. Simple. And I know we all do this, but don’t let time interfere. I always say that everyone does what they want to do, so if it’s something you really want to be doing, you’ll make time for it.
The bottom line: Do what you do, do it well, and tell people about it. Then listen to them. And that’s how networking is done, at least if you’re a human being.