By Shaneika Booker > Senior > Journalism > Southern Illinois University
What is your Twitter address? What is your name on Facebook? Are you on LinkedIn? These are questions that are often asked in order to network or contact an individual at a later time. These popular social networking sites have made networking as easy as creating a screen name. But the question is: What is networking?
According to Webster’s Dictionary, networking is the developing of contacts or exchanging of information with others in an informal network, as to further a career.
Networking helps you meet new people who may be of assistance in your future. Most networking is for future careers and potential job opportunities. Networking is important for students because they interact with people who could help them in their future on a daily basis, such as professors, counselors, colleagues, school staff, and future employers. This is also important for students that are preparing to enter into the business world. It helps them meet people with similar interests, majors or career goals. Networking is so important that some individuals set up networking events that may involve a short presentation or introduction, refreshments, and time for the attendees to mingle, get to know each other, and exchange contact information. A perfect example of networking would be a job fair. At this event there are multiple potential employers who set up small presentations for potential employees. Potential candidates usually provide a resume, business card, and a cover letter to these employers. Candidates may also be prompted to answer a few follow up questions about themselves as well as provide questions of their own.
Krissi Geary-Boehm, coordinator of Internship Placement at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, believes that networking is very important for students in the real world. Geary sets up various workshops that includes real life issues that students will encounter in the business world. These workshops consists of resume and cover letter workshops, internship etiquette, job interview tips, negotiating tactics, and the proper way to network with potential employers and other students. These workshops are offered throughout the semester and open to anyone interested in networking. Many students that attend these workshops feel they are very helpful especially, Colby Chapman, a Southern Illinois University, Carbondale graduate student. Chapman explained that networking is the key to success and she was glad to have attended Geary’s workshops about networking. “Networking helps increase student’s professional skills and is a great opportunity for students to interact with positive role models who can influence their careers,” Chapman said.
Yvette Owens, a host of multiple networking events, explained that she conducts these events to bring together successful people with common interest to socialize and exchange contact information for future endeavors. “I have a great time hosting these events; I meet people from all over Chicago who are interested in entrepreneurship.”
However, networking doesn’t always have to be face to face. Social networking has become the biggest thing for 2009. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are just a few of the new technological way to interact and network with people worldwide. Today people exchange their account information from these sites before they exchange their phone numbers or email. These sites allow you to interact with employers, past friends, future friends and employers. These social networking sites also allow you to exchange more than just contact information, but provide a more in-depth personal view of yourself along with pictures, personal information, schedules and upcoming events that you may post. These sites started out for a younger audience but now have expanded to users of all ages. Monique Gower, SIUC graduate student, explained that she talks with her teachers and employers through at least one of the popular social networking sites daily. “I also use Facebook to keep in-touch with old friends and future colleagues,” she said.
Overall, networking is an important part in anyone’s life, not just students. Whether you realize it or not, you network every day, when you meet someone new and exchange business cards, when you start a new course and exchange emails with your professor, or even when you and your friends exchange your account information for social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Networking is an important way to meet new and successful people that may help you in the near future. This is a great example of it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.