From a young age, school has taught us that our academic success will be essential to getting jobs in the future. However, school often fails to teach us that many other factors, the most important being networking, can make or break our careers. If you, like most high schoolers, are still scratching your head, wondering why networking is so important, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Life is random
You never know when a friend or acquaintance will be able to give you a fantastic work opportunity. Steve Balmer was Bill Gates' college roommate and is now worth more than $71 billion after joining Gates during Microsoft's early days. Had he not maintained his relationship with Gates after college, he may not have seen the same success. One of your friends or professional contacts may very well be the next Gates and want to have you on their team.
2. Knowing people makes you valuable
Beyond all the skills and credentials that you have, you can also add value to a workplace by knowing people who can help your company grow. Whether you have a contact at a business your company wants to acquire, or you know someone who can invest in your company, having a vast web of connections can facilitate your work. If you can offer these assets to a company, they may be willing to pay you more or give you promotions!
3. Networking helps you learn
To be successful in any career, you must be a lifelong learner. Forming and maintaining relationships with people in different fields will introduce you to new ideas that may improve your work or inspire you to create new initiatives. Never underestimate the power of a quick conversation to help get the wheels turning for a new project.
While these three ideas only scratch the surface of the benefits of networking, they should give you an indication of how important it is to build your professional relationships. Remember, it's not always the grades you make. The key to success may very well be the hands you shake.
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