Build your strongest network now

A strong network is built through shared activities.

Networking is not about social media, but about true connections. Michael Goldberg shares in a TEDx Talk that, “Networking is a proactive approach to meeting people to learn with the hope of helping them, not to sell yourself or your items, but to potentially help or learn from those individuals.” Only from building solid relationships and connections can those individuals in your network potentially assist you in the future.

As shared in a short YouTube video, “Swim in Pools: How to Build your Network” by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap, networking is most effective when participating in shared activities with diverse people. These activities are best when there is passionate participation, something at stake and a need for interdependent help to achieve the goal. Taking this advice, networking would best occur:

  • In a club or group.
  • When planning an event or program as a team (this often occurs through a volunteer endeavor).
  • In a team sport.

The benefits of this serendipitous networking is that, with that shared interest, the sometimes challenging icebreaker conversations can be much easier.

Combining these ideas in joining a community service project, you are both helping the community and assisting fellow team members with the success of that project. In the process, you need each other to achieve the goal, you share a passion for its success and the project can either succeed or fail, bringing a mutual commitment to the task. This process demonstrates your personal qualities and character to others, which is better than telling someone, and creates stronger connections than just a short introduction. As a result, this expanded network of individuals, who may potentially be very different than you, may assist you when you are looking for a job, trying to expand your business, learn or grow. Michigan 4-H Youth Development provides resources for networking practice and knowledge.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, including serving in the role of 4-H treasurer, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth career preparation, money management, and entrepreneurship programs, read the 2015 Impact Report: “Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Careers and Employment.”

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