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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: The Importance of Networking

Friday | September 5, 2014 | by Ruying Du


Are you too shy to reach out to professionals? Do you lack confidence to sell your personal pitch? Have you ever felt ashamed of letting opportunities slip away? Believe it or not, I understand.

One year ago, full of excitement and ambition, I set foot in America believing that a top-tier university master’s degree could help me thrive in this “wonderland.” Business school turned out to be very intensive. Occupied by the succession of course projects and trying to learn new software within a short period of time, I excused myself from networking.

The one-year program concluded very quickly. Only a few classmates got job offers right after graduation. For the other recent graduates, job-hunting became our full-time job. Just like looking for a needle in a haystack, online application response rates are very low. According to a friend who majored in finance, out of the 100 jobs she applied to online, only three replied back. So, you may ask, “Is there a shortcut?” The answer is: networking.

Networking and relying on resources from your school’s career services office can ensure a higher response rate. All of my classmates who received job offers right after graduation found job postings through the career office. However, posted job opportunities come and go very quickly. You need to check often for new postings and build connections with career services staff. Given the fact that career services staff are willing to help students launch their careers, this can be a relatively easier way to network.

Networking is not limited to people you are familiar with. Reaching out to professionals at your target company or in your desired industry can also be very effective. Even though you may not always get an employee referral, you can always have a better understanding of job content, which helps you make better decisions.

Knowing the importance of networking is far from enough. You need tactics and a proactive attitude to step out of your comfort zone and put networking into action. Below are some quick tips to get you started:

  • Get your LinkedIn account ready
  • Ask for recommendations from previous or current colleagues via LinkedIn or email
  • Invite alumni for a chat over coffee
  • Talk to professors or staff about your career vision and ambition
  • Attend career fairs with adequate preparation
  • Get a major-related internship in the country you are studying in

As Louis Pasteur said, “chance favors only the prepared mind.” I wish everyone good luck on the job hunting journey.

Related Reading

E-Guide: Professional Development Strategies

Building Resilience Through Professional Networking

Ruying Du is a Marketing Student at the Simon Business School, University of Rochester.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).