Why Networking Is Just Making Friends

Networking Is Really Just Making Friends

The best friends are the ones that give you jobs!

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"Networking" is the dominant topic of conversation in college. "Are you going to Nonprofit Networking tonight?" "Did you go to Women's Networking Night last week?" "Hey! Wanna go to Entertainment Networking Night together?" I even remember a college panel I went to in high school on which one of the panelists said that his campus was small enough to have an intimate academic experience but big enough to "network." I remember thinking--"Does he just mean making friends?"

The word "networking" presents itself in an intimidating way. It implies expansion; the expansion of your professional brand to as many people as possible. Its connotations transport me into a world of handshakes, ironed dress shirts, and sensible high heels. Friendship, on the other hand, has always made me think of genuine laughs, great meals, and connection on a personal level rather than on a basis of someone's career trajectory. I always thought that the two were mutually exclusive.

But now that I'm nearly halfway through my first semester of college, my perception has changed. It was, funnily enough, at UCLA's Women's Networking Night last week. One of the panelists, an incredibly accomplished lawyer, stated that her tactic for finding business partners is connecting on a level deeper than work. She said that once she connects with someone on a moral or ethical level, or even on opinions on things like pop culture or food, she knows that she can pursue a genuine connection with them that may help her later on. She presented networking as something that stemmed from genuine friendship.

This thought to me was revolutionary. I'd always seen networking as a robotic means of elevating one's career, but I've learned that it doesn't have to be that way. The best connections are authentic. The best way to make a friend is to be nice and show you care about them, and this applies wholeheartedly to professional pursuits.

When meeting someone you aspire to be, first ask them about their day rather than asking them if you can friend them on LinkedIn. This sounds intuitive, but being authentic is harder than you might think. Despite my intentions, I often find myself reverting to conventional questions when meeting professional people. "Are there any internships available at your company? Where can I send my cover letter?" It's not that these questions aren't valid, but that they're stereotypical questions that cultivate purely business relationships, rather than friendships. And friends are who people remember. Friends are who people help.

I'm at an age where the #1 thing on everyone's mind is advancing their career, but amidst all that, it's imperative to remember human connections and compassion. I quote icon and genius Brene Brown when I say that authenticity is "a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen." It's not just about being an authentic networker and friend, it's about being an authentic person. People follow authentic people; they follow genuine sentiments and real expressions of care. The more authentic you are, the more successful you'll be.

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Kids Are Growing Up Too Quickly, And It's A Serious Problem

Jojo Siwa and Bhad Bhabie are the SAME AGE. Enough said.

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Today's children are finding themselves having midlife-crisis at the mere age of 12. With pressures from social media and an ever-present culture that asks children to put their most attractive foot forward, childhood is a diminished time period that is replaced with shaky adolescence. With the innocence and delicacy of youth slipping away from the fingertips of today's kids, we find that childhood itself is near extinction.

You see, children are being encouraged into independence much younger than necessary. They are expected to provide for themselves and form their own opinions and emotions much earlier than what is healthy for them in the long run. This rush all stems, however, from parental pressure, the media's influence, and the shame the modern world puts on dependency. Beginning with parental pressures, parents pack maturity into kids' heads by signing us up for technique-intense soccer camps, hiring reading tutors for kindergartners, and composing preschool applications as soon as they find out they are pregnant.

Parents strip away the sense of security and youth these children should have by constantly providing them a view of the future.

Beyond this, the emergence of social media as a common form of validation forces children to believe that the only way for them to receive any form of validation is to act in the manner of their role models and other celebrities. These celebrities, generally much older than the children who idolize them, become the framework for what children wish to become. It stands as an open gateway for girls and boys to venture into adulthood, without the necessary barrier of childhood.

Aside from parental pressure and the media, the modern world places shame on dependency for young kids. In our modern world, we see a toxic combination of marketing, media, and peer pressure pushing for independence. Whether it be a show, where a young boy goes out on his own and travels the world, or a friend, who is advising you that footie pajamas are too babyish. This deadly mixture places humiliation on young kids, constructing an even more secure barrier against dependency, an important component for development.

The effects of this push are outstandingly tragic and numerous. On a large scale, depression and other related factors have been found to be an effect to "hurried-child syndrome". In smaller, but just as serious terms, identity crises of our youth have been deemed an effect of this issue.

In the essence of dark matter, propelling the youth into their adolescence before they are ready has given leeway to drug and alcohol abuse, sexual fears, stress-related illnesses, burnout, and increasingly, suicide. Childhood is an age of innocence, to learn about the world with a lighthearted filter, and to experience life with naivety. It's important to our development, and without it, the misplaced life experience can be converted into poor life decisions and even worse views.

Amongst depression and it's related and devastating relations, we see identity crises uncovering themselves in the youngsters that shouldn't have a care in the world. The kids feel neglected and unparented. They mourn the loss of childhood and experience what looks like a midlife crisis in their mere teens. They feel empty in their adolescence.

The solutions themselves, however, are much simpler than one would expect. In order to allow kids to not feel succumbed to "hurried-child syndrome" society must simply pronounce dependence and disintegrate the stigma of growth. So allow me to tuck you in with a bedtime story, of soluble hope.

Begin by pronouncing dependence: Dependency is not something to be ashamed of. Instead, it should be protected. It is normal to need help every now and then because that is how we as humans learn and adapt to the world around us. Encourage inquisition and safeguard curiosity, because these acts of dependence are what allow us to grow into strong individuals in the future.

Amongst this, we can disintegrate the stigma of growth. Rather than deciding that children should be focusing on their future career path when they are a simple child, live in the moment. Childhood is quick, and if we continue to shorten it, a time that should be savored, won't be evident enough to leave a mark. We can stop stripping away youth by informing ourselves on children's developmental needs, recognizing what constitutes "quality childcare," and understanding that there is a danger to the consumerist screen-based lifestyle we live.

Perhaps I'm bitter that most children know how to dress better than I do, or maybe I'm just angry that not every kid had a "Justice" phase. Beyond my bitterness, the idea of a rushed childhood is something that should be considered and something that should be changed. Whether it be with your little sister, your baby cousin, or the kids you babysit, every single person can play a role in changing the modern culture of childhood into one that benefits and secures the innocence of childhood for what it should be. Because after all, kids should be kids.

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