Build Your Network Now

by Joe Sorenson

Recently, 10 Simpson students took advantage of a unique event in downtown Des Moines.

Silicon Prairie News, a media source that covers tech startups in the Midwest, hosted a job crawl to give college students in the area an opportunity to connect with local startups. Over twenty startups were represented at the job crawl, and most offered internships, part-time and full-time jobs.

Dwolla, RecBob, Tickly and VolunteerLocal were some of the up-and-coming businesses at the job crawl.

The job crawl was an awesome opportunity for participating students to practice networking skills. Students were able to walk around and learn about a business and interact with leading business professionals in a very informal way.

Without many of us knowing it, we were building our network up without even trying. People swapped business cards and handed over resumes in hope of a call back about a job opportunity.

It is so important in this current job market to get out there and meet people. Networking is a popular “buzz” word today, and a must-do for young professionals to have success finding the coveted internship or job.

But really, why must we network and do it so often? Here are a few of my opinions of what I have learned about the ways to network and the value of doing it often.

You have the opportunity to learn from the best. As much as we want to say we really know what we want to do, most of us want to do a million different jobs coming out of college and have no way deciding which one is the best or which one we will like most.

Networking with professionals in your areas of interest can give you a better feel if you will like the job or not. Plus, an extra benefit, the more you network in that field, the more people you know that can help you find that job if you do choose to go into that type of work.

Networking is a skill that must be practiced. We practice how to make the perfect pass, hit the high C note, solve equations, etc. All of these skills take time and effort to become great at doing them. Networking requires the same amount of effort and time to become great at it.

Everyone at Simpson should take advantage of events like the job crawl, Mocktails or Career Tailgate. Work on you elevator speech and how you approach people in a large group setting: they say the first 10 seconds is when you make your biggest impact when meeting a new person.

Don’t let that first 10 seconds be bad because you haven’t taken the time to be great at it.

The last piece of advice I have about networking is to have fun doing it. I have met a lot of people that are professionals in what I am interested in, and they all have a great story to tell and all our interested in what I do.

Networking is something that we will all do for a very long time, better to have fun at it than dread doing it. Plus, the more fun you have doing something, the better chance you have showing someone who you really are and what you can do.

These are just pieces of advice I would give to a student ready to begin building their professional network.

Do it often, start early, how fun while doing it, and talk to everyone. Who knows, maybe they are the person who hooks you up that internship or job that you have always dreamed of.

Joe Sorenson is a senior management and philosophy major. He is the student body president.