By Sarah Murray
At the heels of many college and university students graduating this month, eagerly on the hunt to embark on a career focused job, I thought it was fitting to write a few words on the power of networking – I believe this is an instrumental component to establishing your career right from the beginning.
Many opportunities will lead you to your chosen career and give you the fundamental tools to excel and reach your goals. The power of networking I learned in the early stages of my chosen career, is a key skillset that will give you the resources and opportunities that will open many doors along your path.
When I started my career, the thought of attending evening events and “after work hours” networking functions in a big city seemed daunting – who was going to chat to a young twenty-something girl with no experience…. so I thought. I remember going to my first industry event on my own, and feeling so out of place, but I do not regret going.
At the end of the evening, I met a group of like-minded individuals, all equally passionate about the meeting, events and incentive travel industry – in fact, many people I have met at functions along the way have become personal friends!
My first event gave me the courage to attend an abundance of events; and I am proud to say, my current company – Dragonfly Meeting Solutions – encourages networking in every capacity!
Your own personal social network will be instrumental to your career growth – TRUST ME!
The saying “small world” becomes an understatement when you hit the ground running with your career aspirations – the top five networking tools I have learned are:
- Stay connected with whom you meet along your path. Today, the use of business cards is becoming less and less. The power of social media is invaluable. When I meet someone, I always utilize my social media platforms to ensure I stay connected.
- Send cards! Who doesn’t love getting mail! We don’t get nearly enough personalized items in the mailbox these days and it certainly goes a long way. Every three months, I spend time either writing a card (or dropping an email) to some of my business associates, and always use the Christmas season as a time to “drop a note”!
- Stay current and relevant. This means – make sure you are out and about (networking!) learning new areas of your industry. With the ever-changing world, there are so many new concepts and ideas created and promoted daily, those who invest the time to stay current and relevant are the ones who are consistently striving to be better!
- Referrals go a long way. I can proudly say that a lot of the business Dragonfly Meeting Solutions Inc. has received is through client or networking referrals – one of the most powerful selling and marketing tools available, in fact, the best source of new business and your own personal career growth.
- Your suppliers are your biggest advocates. In our industry, we do not sell a product; we sell a white glove service to our clients. We see our supplier base as an extension of our own team. Without a strong relationship with our suppliers; our jobs would be very difficult. We treat our suppliers exactly as you would with members of our own team – they are essentially your colleagues and should be treated with integrity, respect and appreciation for all they do for us.
Remember – your network is powerful and you will reap instrumental rewards if you foster and invest in maintaining and remaining current!