The phrase "it's not what you know, it's who you know", is not just a phrase. Nope, not at all. It is the truth. Yes, you need to have a degree, possibly more than just your Bachelor's, but experience and who you know count for a lot more than that expensive piece of paper does.
Picture it like this, your degree is your invitation to the dinner party, but your connections (made via networking) are what actually get you in the door. Want to take it further? Your experience with these networking connections are what get you a seat at the main table.
So what is this magic way to get you at the table? Well, it isn't magic. It isn't guaranteed. You actually have to work at it and put forth effort. Networking is a way for you to get your name out there, sell yourself, make an impression. It really can be as simple as a short, but impressive, elevator pitch that leads to job shadowing or a new mentor. It can also be more complex, you may have to talk to this person multiple times in multiple ways before they start to remember you. Either is okay!
My short answer for "what is networking?", would be that networking is communicating professionally with another person. Good networking is communicating professionally with another person where you share information about yourself and learn about the other individual as well. This exchange of information leads to sharing of contact information, staying in touch, and, in the best cases, asking for advice, mentoring, or job advice/recommendations. Connecting with professionals is a great way to build your personal network and promoting your personal brand, or reputation, in a way that can help you land an internship, job, or opportunity to connect with other professionals that can help you in a variety of ways.
Hopefully this brief recap of what networking helps to explain a little of the what and why. Part II covers where and how to network.
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