Reflections on Networking

Hey folks. Jay Lee here. I wanted to share what networking means to me.

At first glance, networking seems to be some sort of cold and inorganic business strategy. It’s little surprise that some people are less than enthusiastic to think of networking as something that should be important to them. It’s easy to make the jump from building strategic relationships to being artificial and manipulative, but the truth is that when done right, networking isn’t just beneficial for everyone, it’s organic and relational.

Networking became a real and important part of my life when I was in graduate school. I was 25 years old, a little more than a year away from the possibility of graduating and establishing a career for myself. A chance encounter with an acquaintance led to a conversation about the boarding school he worked at, and shortly after this conversation I found myself in contact with the school’s recruiter! Before I knew it, I was moving into one of the boarding school’s dorms, having joined the residential department. This job required minimal hours and provided free housing, a perfect opportunity for a poor graduate student, and allowed for me to meet a few of the teachers on campus. A few years later, I decided to apply for a full time teaching position at the school. One of the main letters of recommendations submitted with my resume was from a teacher I met during my time working with the residential team. That coupled with the reputation I gained from the teachers I interacted with led me to getting hired.

I tell this story because never through any of that did I have any sort of master plan to get hired as a teacher. Instead, it was quite the opposite for me. I was not looking for a job, but I was open to conversations and meeting people. These relationships were never with the intention to benefit me professionally, but over time certain opportunities developed where these relationships paid off in connecting me to the right people that led me to getting hired as a teacher. In my case, networking was extremely accidental, but it taught me that people are open to invest and help you, if you’re willing to take the time to build those relationships.

I hope this was helpful for you in seeing how networking can make a difference in your professional life! Come join us for lunch on Sunday, April 24 to hear more from us. –JL