Networking. Networking. The working of nets. Say it so many times the word loses shape in your mouth.
It’s hard to conceive of how important networking actually is. From gathering information to one day garnering potential job leads, who you know is crucial. You have built-in colleagues in your peers and classmates, and maybe a handful of connections through family friends or previous co-workers. But how do you build a professional network beyond that?
It had always seemed bizarre to me to siddle up to beleagured attorneys at so called ‘networking events'; what was I supposed to say? “Heeeyyyyy can I have a job? How can you help me? Tell me everything useful that you know about stuff and things”. I felt like I didn’t have anything to offer them, and the unevenness of the relationship really bothered me.
For most of us, it’s never going to be perfectly comfortable to push your way into a circle of people talking at a cocktail reception and introduce yourself to strangers. It does get easier with practice, but what’s even more of a relief: most people are actually eager and excited to talk to you, or they probably wouldn’t be at those events. Unsurprisingly people who’ve chosen a career where communication is central are pretty into talking.
And don’t write yourself off as having nothing to offer. Maybe it’s a simple as being able to offer a dining suggestion in a part of town they don’t know, or maybe your lowly intern position somewhere might’ve given you the ear of someone who might be making hiring decisions for positions *they* are interested in. But that aside, people really do want to help you. Obviously not everyone is interested/has time/is able, but a lot do and you should’t feel guilty for accepting that.