We all hear stories about people getting jobs even though theyâ€™re not necessarily the best of the best. We tend to resent those people who just seem to find it so easy to get whatever job they wanted, when others who were possibly more qualified, or downright needed the job more, donâ€™t. Gone are the days when doing well in school and college was practically a passport to employment-land. This is the age where no matter how good you are, there is always going to be someone out there who has more to offer. So if everyone always has someone who has more to offer than them, how DO people get jobs? The answer to this question is something that Management gurus cry out as often as they can in their books and articles: Networking. And this refers to serious business networking, not just winning in a popularity contest (though that may come in handy in some cases).
One way to network is to actually go to academic or even other functions around college. Getting to know your professors is another great way to build a network, because who is it that recommends you in applications for scholarships as well as in your resume? Itâ€™s that Calculus professor from freshman year with whom you discussed your interest in indefinite integrals. Every time there is a chance to attend an event where professors or people from the industry may come, try your best to show up, because every single person you know now may become a future source of employment.
The advent of computers and the internet has changed the networking scenario completely. There is such a range of ways to stay in touch with people, and keep getting exposed to more and more people and opportunities every single day, due to the variety of networking sites on the internet. Ever since Facebook came into existence, for example, it has kept millions of people hooked, college students, high school students, and executives alike. Some would say that if itâ€™s not on Facebook, then it doesnâ€™t exist. Facebook is the ultimate tool used by most people to stay in touch with loved ones, and old friends.
But thatâ€™s not all that Facebook can do for you! Facebook has this really useful app called BranchOut, which is mainly like a Facebook for business networking. It was started by Rick Marini and his team of innovative managers in San Francisco. Signing up is super easy because your education/employment details will be pulled in from Facebook (since the BranchOut account will be linked to your Facebook account) and if you already have a LinkedIn profile (about which we will talk in a bit) you can just import all your resume details. Once youâ€™re in, you will access to all your friendsâ€™ contacts if theyâ€™re part of BranchOut too. Also, you can do searches for jobs, and possible even get an internship or even a job! Every single contact that you add on your BranchOut list brings with him or her, a big group of people, including their present or previous employers, or possible job opportunities. BranchOut gives a whole new meaning to the saying (shown proudly right across their homepage) â€œItâ€™s not what you know, itâ€™s who you knowâ€. While most of us do well at the â€œwhat you knowâ€ part, (letâ€™s not be modest – this is IIT), a lot more of us fall short at the â€œwho you knowâ€ part. Networking is something that should be taken very seriously, and social networking is the simplest way of doing this.
Another networking site that I mentioned before is LinkedIn. Unlike BranchOut, which hasnâ€™t gained aÂ name yet, LinkedIn is a strange case because while most college students have heard of it, very few are actually active members. LinkedIn is a networking site meant largely for business networking purposes, where job seekers put up their profiles and resumes, and companies present available jobs. Itâ€™s a more sober version of BranchOut, and has the more serious job seekers for members. Creating a LinkedIn profile is quite easy too, though it would require some time to finish filling in all the details, if you want a comprehensive profile. The system by which LinkedIn works is similar to BranchOut in the sense that your friends pull in even more contacts. Once again, you can do searches for jobs, or employers can find you based on your profile.
While youâ€™re at it, â€œBuilt in Chicagoâ€ would be another website to check out. This site has articles to help with management, and aims to connect and promote the digital community in Chicago. This would include a lot of professions, like software development, product management, media buying, analytics, and usability. The online community includes big companies as well as small startups in its vast range of member companies.Â Join the IIT Group at http://www.builtinchicago.org/group/IIT!
In conclusion, Iâ€™d like to add that networking is not just about collecting business cards, and having lots of people on your contacts list on Facebook or LinkedIn. It is about how dynamically and proactively you keep in touch and keep the relationship alive. While Facebook and LinkedIn make this process easier, some amount of personal networking is also required, so that you can stand out from the crowd. Another useful tip would be to be careful to not come across as someone who is networking with an immediate agenda. When you network without seeking to get something out of it immediately, and try to help people instead of seek help to begin with, you create better equity, and this pays off in the long run. Itâ€™s a tough world out there, especially now, with the recession that the economy appears to be just recovering from. Networking is an essential tool to make sure you have that edge over others in the labor market. It can be really easy with just a little bit of care in keeping track of all the people you know, but it can also be the thing that gets in your way every time, if you donâ€™t use it! You remember those people mentioned before? The ones who seem to always get the job (to your irritation) just because they always know someone on the inside? Well, if you canâ€™t beat them, then just join them!