Three tips to network like a pro

by Pete Mockaitis

It’s fun when your members know everybody who can enhance your organization. It makes you feel like elite peeps who know what’s up. But this is rarely the case; the average student doesn’t have Ellen for an aunt or the President as a chum. If you don’t quite know where to turn or how to make the initial contact, read on. Linking your organization to the rest of society requires the tricky skill of networking.

Define What You Want To Achieve
Sometimes student organizations want to break out into the world just because they think that they should. They feel isolated within themselves and just have the yearning sensation to break out and make their mark. Before randomly venturing out, it is important to step back and take a look at what you want to achieve from your initial contact with the outside world.
First, is it even necessary to make contact with the world? Sometimes it is perfectly fine to have a self-serving organization that doesn’t venture outside its confines. If your mission is learning-oriented (e.g., learn about careers in finance, sharpen athletic skills, etc.) and everyone is fired up about what they already do, there may be no need for outreach.

Find Out How To Access The People Who Can Get You There
Once you’ve identified your people, you will need to find out how to get in touch with them. Here’s the secret: The coolest thing about people is that they know other people. More fascinating, those other people know still other people. They say that everyone on the planet is connected to each other within six degrees of separation—and “everyone” includes Kevin Bacon… One of the quickest ways to get in contact with an applicable person is to give a simple assignment to everyone in the club: Check all your “people-sources” for an applicable contact and report back to your group.

Don’t Be Shy About Asking!
You would be amazed at how the random people you encounter everyday are connected to people you’d like to know. When I began the arduous process of seeking a publisher for this work, I asked people everywhere I saw, “Hey, do you know anybody in the publishing business?” I actually encountered some people who knew some people. They gave me invaluable advice on polishing my work.
So don’t be shy about asking! It’s not an insult. People like helping people…and recognize that connecting people to people is one of the easiest ways they can be a big help.