When you’re young, you’re told by your parents, friends and strangers never to talk to strangers. Once you get into the business world however, that sentiment changes.
Networking – like Outlook and coffee breaks – is a mandatory part of doing business today. It’s the best way to connect with others and develop relationships, both on the personal and professional level. And it’s a part of the business world that manages to stand the test of time, no matter the technology changes that disrupt other aspects of the workplace.
For people who feel too nervous to put themselves out there, I can relate. As a kid, I was a shy person. A lot of it stemmed from teasing by my peers. And I had a hard time connecting with others outside of my family.
As I grew up I understood the benefits of simply being friendly. And by the time I got to high school, I had learned some things about networking:
- Kids can be annoying creatures
- By simply starting a conversation and being friendly you can build relationships
- Networking can be as easy as finding a common interest with others and taking an interest in their lives and work
For an introvert, it may sound like a lot, but once you get the hang of it, networking becomes as natural as breathing or posting a selfie with multiple filters.
I started networking in high school (albeit on a more personal level) and I found lifelong friends who will stay connected with me. Now, as I enter the business world, I realize the skills I have been practicing my entire life will be extremely useful in the workplace.
Flash forward to a college summer. You’ve survived two grueling semesters, you’ve mastered the art of procrastination, and you’ve earned yourself a summer internship. The first day rolls around, and you find yourself lost in a sea of suits.
The most effective way to rise up to the surface is by networking. Develop positive relationships with your manager, your team and others around the office. By forging these bonds, you create a fun environment where you can do what you love and be part of a group that holds a special place in your life (and your Snapchat stories). These same people will potentially guide you to success in your career in the years to come.
Now that you’re all grown up, learn to shake hands with strangers. You never know what opportunity may lie on the other side.
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Varun Datta is on the digital marketing team as a summer intern in Tysons. Varun is from Ashburn, Virginia, and goes to James Madison University, where he is a rising senior studying Marketing. His hobbies include watching TV shows on Netflix, hanging out with friends, chasing waterfalls against TLC’s wishes and putting on Ray-Bans to block out the haters.