Building Your Network Circle
by Noah Cox, Executive Vice-President
High School. It’s an important time in your life. Here, you begin to pick the career route that will impact the rest of your life, learn many lifelong lessons, and lay the foundation for most of your adult life. So, while everyone has been telling you to start looking at colleges, practice for the SAT and get good grades, how many people have been telling you to build your networking circle? Probably not many. Yet, starting networking now may be one of the biggest ways you can get a leg up and succeed in the modern working world.
There’s an age-old phrase: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And according to recent studies, this couldn't be more accurate in today’s professional world. According to a 2016 LinkedIn study, eighty-five percent (85%) of all jobs are filled through some form of networking or another. In other words, networking is the core of success in any person’s career and can work as a great foundation to help anyone get an edge, even as early as high school. Networking in a high school setting is crucial as well. Letters of recommendation, sports scholarships, and college admissions are all great examples of where having a networking circle can help you get that competitive standing in the college admissions process.
Here are some great first steps to help you get a competitive edge: first, get a LinkedIn account. 51% of professionals don’t even have a LinkedIn account. By getting one when you’re only in high school you demonstrate matureness and professionalism to potential places you might want to intern or work at while in high school. In addition, LinkedIn offers pamphlets that teach young adults the power of building a great LinkedIn profile and how to network properly. Second, reach out to your teachers/professionals and start asking who is willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Strong, descriptive letters of recommendation are one of the biggest advantages you can have going into the college admissions process. And having teachers that are informed and educated on your passions and accomplishments can make the difference between a good letter and a great letter. Additionally, getting to know your teachers or whomever you may have written your letter can help you build a portfolio of people in your networking circle that may be able to help you out in the future. Third, reach out to colleges and demonstrate an interest in their school and get to know people at the college. Many colleges today take demonstrated interest into consideration when admitting their students. Demonstrating interest in addition to talking with college admissions reps about tips and trick can help you get an important step up in the college admissions process. Additionally, getting to know admission staff on the inside of colleges allows you to get more detailed inside information on each college’s admissions process, along with what scholarships are available to help make college more affordable. Finally, go to the legacy launchers at BPA FLC and SLC. These workshops are designed to give you the skills necessary to succeed in tomorrow's workforce. These workshops can teach you a lot and are often taught by professionals who bring decades of networking knowledge to the table for you to learn. Plus, you have the opportunity to network with industry professionals and other BPA members. These networking opportunities at the legacy launchers at FLC and SLC could range from talking to business leaders about internship opportunities, to talking to colleges about business programs to business camps, and even other members of Michigan BPA just to see what other members are like. But they all have one benefit: to allow you to leverage the community of business professionals/aspiring business professionals for you to achieve or have available to you the maximum number of opportunities possible.
Networking is the foundation of today’s business society. Anyone who wishes to do succeed in business today will need to know networking skills in order to succeed tomorrow.