June 08, 2012 by Op-Ed
Connect. What a great word! Everything we do is based on connectivity. The decisions of where we go to school, live, eat, shop, work and vacation are all based on connectivity. The economic growth of our country is driven by connectivity. Look at the regions that are thriving and growing, and you will see they are the areas that are easily connected to other regions. Even on a personal level, connectivity is vital to professional and personal success.
As students, you all have shared connections. Maybe it’s through course of study, classes, activities, living arrangements or social organizations that you connect with each other.
If you are a member of the class of 2012, your formal education will end with graduation in a few short days, but the opportunities to connect with Drexel and with your fellow graduates never ends — nor should it! Connecting is as important after graduation as it was before.
The most effective way we increase our connectivity is through networking. How do we most effectively network? There is an art to networking, and my experiences have taught me the importance of networking and the best ways to do it.
When thinking about networking, I like to have a goal in mind. What am I trying to accomplish? Am I looking for a new job, trying to make a sale, or searching for a new social opportunity? First decide on your goal, then seek out the various ways to develop and nurture new relationships in order to meet it.
An important part of networking is not only thinking about your needs but also finding ways to assist those you meet. Ask yourself, “How can I help this person?” Engage people in conversations about themselves or their business or organization. I promise you will get time to talk about yourself later. By presenting yourself as a caring and sincere person, you make a very positive, lasting impression on those you meet.
Next, remember to listen, listen, listen! By listening to other people, you discover ways to utilize your strengths in assisting them. Whether you are selling yourself or your service or product, people are very interested in learning how you or your product can benefit them. Your product could be the most valuable thing in the world, but if they do not understand how it will benefit them, the people you meet will not buy it. So listen, listen, listen and learn — then you can make a lasting and meaningful connection.
Social media today is a networking necessity. It’s fast, efficient and gets the word out. In our fast-paced world, it allows us to get information to a large audience in a very brief, succinct manner. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are important tools in networking. Through social media we cross paths with people we might never meet otherwise.
My favorite way to network is through personal contact. Everything is right there in front of you. You get to feel a handshake, watch body language and look right into someone’s eyes as you make contact. An important part of networking is how you present yourself; it’s the same for social media, email, texting, or meeting someone in person. People respond to you based greatly on how you present yourself.
As you grow professionally and personally, networking will become increasingly more important to you. Take time to perfect the art of networking; it is well worth the effort. In addition, never forget the power of networking with fellow alumni. The Drexel University Alumni Association is a wonderful resource for all of us! Below is a list of some excellent networking opportunities through the Alumni Association. I encourage you to explore and take advantage of these resources.
Join the thousands of alumni who are already part of the official Drexel University Alumni Association online networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. The Drexel University Alumni Networking Group on LinkedIn is a popular professional networking group with more than 9,000 members. The Online Alumni Directory is a network exclusive to Drexel alumni. After graduation, create a profile in the directory to share class notes, find alumni contact information and search job postings.
The Alumni Association hosts workshops, seminars and networking receptions year-round. These programs cover a wide range of topics from conducting an online job search to achieving work-life balance to career transition. They allow you to meet and establish relationships with other Drexel graduates, which could potentially lead you to that next career step.
Throughout the year, the Alumni Association hosts more than 250 events to connect alumni. We hope to see you at an event in your area, practicing and perfecting your networking skills!
For information on networking opportunities with Drexel alumni, visit the Alumni Association website at drexel.edu/alumni.
Marianne Martelli ‘81
Vice President of Operations, Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry