No matter if you are a high school student, a senior in college or a graduate student, making connections is always beneficial! Some of the most important connections I have made came through networking.

My junior year of college, I landed a summer job because of a professional connection. During that job, I met the communications director of a local company – a meeting that opened the door for me to get an internship.
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Networking can be very uncomfortable. You take a look around a room full of strangers and wonder, “What did I get myself into?”

Yet, other people in the room probably feel the same way you do, so don’t be intimidated.

To ease the process, start the conversation off with a compliment like, "Nice shoes!" or "Cute bag!" A light and easy ice breaker such as a common interest also eases the pressure. If you feel uncomfortable going to an event alone, have a friend tag along with you! It’s a bonus if that friend is very social and outgoing because who doesn’t love a great group conversation, right?

I have made lifelong friends, mentors, potential business partners and more through networking. Someone may have a skill you can utilize or they may know someone who can open a door for you. You can trade ideas, learn new skills from others and teach them something you may know as well. For example, imagine you’re an art major and attend a campus event. At the event you exchange information with a business student. Over coffee he gives you tips on how to market yourself to sell your art while in return you might give him tips on designing a logo or creative business cards. The possibilities with networking are endless.

 

Time to put these tips to work. How comfortable are you with networking?

 

Tonisha Brown is a Nashville native with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Tennessee State University. In her spare time she enjoys dancing, writing and shopping.