Every now and then “network” seems like a dirty word. Have you ever asked someone about going to a networking event and see them wince?
Networking was never that big of a deal for me because I generally like meeting new people.
Without reaching out to my friend M-W, I’ll simply say that networks are groups of people with whom we have connections. Your friends are a part of your network. Alumni groups, co-workers, volunteer partners…all of these people are a part of your network.
And for the record, I don’t view a network as some object that we build and put on a shelf somewhere for safe keeping.
You need to actively focus on your network, adding value when you can and extracting value when you need to.
I’m entering a phase where a lot of my networking efforts will involve alumni groups and volunteer efforts. For the last 3 to 4 years, I have been an active member of the GW Alumni Community. My efforts tend to be focused on supporting student/alumni career advising and multicultural activities hosted by the university.
This week, I will enter hyperdrive mode when I become the Chair of the GW Black Alumni Association. In this role, I’ll have a dual charge of helping to create a stronger community among Black alumni and also working to connect this group to the variety of engagement opportunities sponsored by the university at large.
I recently attended a multicultural student/alumni networking event and saw a student I’ve been following for a few years. We first met at a similar event when he was a sophomore , and we stayed in touch via email and the occasional meeting for coffee. We mainly spoke about his career ambitions and what life is like as a GW student now.
My period in Mongolia made it harder to keep up, so I was pleased to see him the other night. He’s now a senior and well on his way to success – ready for graduation and weighing offers from Harvard and Stanford Law!
I can’t take credit for his success, but I’d like to think that our conversations helped fuel his interest in doing well even when things seemed difficult.
There are many reasons for having a network. The value you give and the value you extract does not always have to be something tangible either.
I have 3 million reasons for having a network. In this case, it was showing an interest in supporting someone and (hopefully) helping guide their way.
Why do you have a network?