The University of Networking

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When I look back on my college career it was a waste of time and money.

This doesn’t mean college isn’t valuable (although that’s debatable), but it comes down to personal expectations.

Will college prepare me for my first job?

Will it provide me with the real world skills I need to succeed?

Does it give me an advantage over the competition?  

Answer: none of the above.

College is what you make of it. Looking back I should have cared less about passing my classes and more about who I was talking to in them. I’m not saying a classmate could get me a job, but they may be able to connect me to someone who could.

It wasn’t until several years later I learned the value of networking. Success always comes back to who you know. The smartest people aren’t always the most successful, but the most connected ones are.

Don’t confuse networking with manipulation. True networking is building a relationship. First impressions matter, but trust and rapport happen over time.

All my business mentors and professionals I respect have tremendous support systems around them. The right connections open doors you can’t.

You and I crave connections, we just don’t think of it in business terms. For example, if you have a better idea than an existing one instead of studying the competition, connect with them. If your solution is that great, customers will come to you.

I make it a goal of mine to reach out to new and re-connect with existing contacts weekly. Not because it’s something to check off my to-do list, but because I value knowing more people.

Focus on quality over quantity and networking becomes more about fostering relationships than increasing your connection count. Technology has allowed us to connect with people we would never have access to before. Take advantage of that and follow up.

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