The importance of being a networker?

If you are the type of person who possess a fine attention to detail, you will have already noticed that there is a question mark at the end of the title of this article. If you are the type of person who possess a sense of curiosity, you will almost certainly be wondering why that is.

One of the first things we are all told when embarking on an MBA in Boston is that networking is important- perhaps even critical- to finding the job you really want once you have graduated. Boston thrives on networks, and everyone from the careers team to the Dean are keen to tell you how important it is and provide you with chances to go and get involved.

I am vice-president of the entrepreneurship and innovation club at Hult and the opportunities to meet like-minded entrepreneurs here are incredible. I’ve never done the calculations, but there must be significantly more than one event for every day of the year, possibly even two. And that’s just for the entrepreneur community. The chances to meet people who may have, or at least know someone who will have, a dream job lined up for you in the future are colossal.

So why the question mark in the title? The point is that you never know if and when your network is going to come through for you. It may never bear fruit. Of course it doesn’t hurt to know people in a city, but the time it takes to build a virtual database of contacts who are more to you than just ‘that guy who made a funny joke about the hors d’oeuvres’ is colossal- particularly when you are on an MBA course that should take two years, but is done in half that time.

The trick here is to be selective with your appointments: go to the events that truly interest you and are likely to be attended by people you want to meet. Have an objective in mind and if possible, target certain attendees in advance so you can do your research. Make the most of your limited time.

I still do not know if my network will be of any significant use to me in the future. I’ve met some interesting people, and had a lot of fun doing it but only time will tell whether it comes through for me.

Then again, there is a more subtle advantage of networking that is seldom talked about: confidence. Not only does it encourage you to get out and be talkative about yourself to absolute strangers, it gives you practice for when you finally meet the employer of your dreams and also gives you the belief that you belong amongst those people. For many, that confidence is what gets them their dream job, not their contacts.

So get out there and give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say.

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