Why having the biggest network, isn’t having the best network

As my final semester approaches, and I consider everything that I have learned and studied as a Public Relations student, I reflect on the emphasis on networking.  The saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” has more credence now than ever, considering the growing hardship that is the job market.

Understanding the benefit of networking is therefore key to being successful, however, this is where I make my point that having the biggest network does not mean you have the best.

What I mean by this, is the fact that the emphasis on meeting people, has overtaken the concept of building relationships.  Students are consistently taught that they should develop a pitch to sell themselves in a minute, an “elevator pitch” if you will.  The fallacy with the concept though is the fact that students are never taught how to follow up.  The title of the post comes from this idea, the sense that we are taught to sell ourselves, but never to seal the deal.

Of course there are exceptions to the notion, and there are those people that have thousands of quality contacts, but there is a severe difference between a networked, professional, relationship and a simple contact.

Considering what I’ve learned with my internship at theppl, “knowing” thousands of people doesn’t even compare to having a working relationship with a number as small as 20 or 30.

As I move forward and prepare for the end of my academic career, I encourage students to take a step back, and evaluate what they are doing to network, and to consider if they are simply meeting people, or if they are legitimately developing relationships that are mutually beneficial between them and their contacts.

On a final note, consider this: if you have to give to get, what do you expect in return for simply handing someone a business card?

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