Networking, professional, personal growth, connection
CAREER / 14 December 2016
The Importance of Top Notch Networking Skills
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Aiming Li
Branding Intern

Your Net worth is only as good as your Network.

        Back to the good old days of freshman year in college, a senior lecturer at the Smeal College of Business spoke to the new students about success in business, 

“Ask any senior executive, politician, community leader or successful salesperson which single skill or habit helped them excel in their career the most– an overwhelming majority will respond with one simple word… Networking.”

I was one of the new students sitting in the lecture hall, and four years later, those words have opened up a tremendous amount of opportunities.  

Networking is about making connections and building long lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. In this post, I will explain to you why having top notch networking skills are so crucial for your personal and career success. Before I get into the dos and don’ts of networking, I want to tell a story that is not known to many, the story of how Jimmy Fallon made it to “The Tonight Show” through exceptional networking. 

 Real life Example

        In just five years, Jimmy Fallon went from an unsuccessful Hollywood actor to a late night star to the host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show”, one of the most respected franchises in entertainment. 

During Fallon’s senior year in college, he interned at a New York alt-weekly, and his former boss Peter Iselin passed on his audition tape to one of his colleagues in Los Angeles, entertainment agent Randi Siegel. 

Siegel was impressed by Fallon’s charm and enthusiasm and agreed to give him a position at SNL. At SNL, Fallon developed the relationship that would come to define his career, with the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels. SNL producer Marci Klein took a liking to Fallon and recommended that he make his way into Michaels’ exclusive SNL after parties. 

Fallon said during an interview with Men’s Journal, “Marci gave me a bit of advice: 'After every show, go over to Lorne and you thank him for the show.' and I did. I thanked him every single show.” After a few weeks of this, Michaels invited him to the after parties. Michaels developed a rare friendship with Fallon, in 2009 he convinced Fallon to take Conan O’Brien’s vacated seat on NBC’s “Late Night”. 

Fallon is a good listener, he is respectful, and more importantly, he networks with key influencers with sincerity. Fallon’s impressive rise is largely due to his intense focus on developing relationships with people who could advance his career, and he proves that this type of effective networking is based on a genuine interest in personally connecting with influencers. His approach has worked. Since 2014, Fallon has attracted around 4 million viewers each night. If you would like to read the more detailed story of Jimmy Fallon, read this article by Business Insider

Networking tips

“One of the challenges in networking is everybody thinks it’s making cold calls to strangers. Actually, it’s the people who already have strong trust relationships with you, who know you’re dedicated, smart, a team player, who can help you.” -- Reid Hoffman

        Everyone is constantly bombarded with advertisements, emails, status updates, special offers, and sales pitches. Personal relationships truly enable you and your organization to stand out, rise above the noise and remain in people’s minds. Schedule at least one networking meeting per week. Make it your intention to have lunch or coffee with colleagues or classmates. Put it on your calendar or it won’t happen! 

While it’s important to build a network of contacts to support your career goal, it’s equally important to nurture the relationships you have. After networking events, make sure to stay connected with those that you meet. Take a look at the business cards you received and email those people while it is still fresh in your mind. Here is another article about how to keep in touch professionally. 

Networking is not transactional, but too often it’s approached in such a way. Play the long game and build the network for the sake of building the network. Often times people miss opportunities to network because they feel intimidated, particularly if the other person is more senior. However, there is very little downside when aiming high, the worst that can happen is they say “no” or ignore you. 

Remember, networking events give you the chance to relax and socialize for a few hours in what is a time when working on your startup can include working long into the night. And better still, it counts as work. You’re marketing your business and yourself, and best of all you are creating valuable connections.

Start networking today

“Instead of telling the world what you’re eating for breakfast, you can use social networking to do something that’s meaningful.” -- Edward Norton

        ProSky is a great way to network with talented candidates and recruiters across the nation. At ProSky, you can easily connect and interact with employers through projects and challenges. Challenges are for candidates who are actively looking to get hired. These are brief mini-projects that allow companies to quickly evaluate and hire candidates. On the other hands, projects allow candidates to gain experience, practice skills and showcase their talents to decision makers in companies that are looking to hire.

         Your time is valuable so be strategic about your networking activity outside of work. It’s wise to identify a couple of organizations that will provide valuable resources for your professional development. Before you join, go to a couple of meetings. Find those organizations that align with your values and offer you the best opportunities to build powerful relationships. If you find this article helpful to you and would like to learn more about Online Networking or Networking on Twitter, please read these articles where I give awesome tips about marketing yourself online!