Making Networking Work for You
Friday, June 13, 2014
By: Drew Crosswhite
Do you remember your first job? Maybe you did yard work for a friend of your parents over the summer. Perhaps you babysat on the weekends for that young couple from church. Or maybe your friend got you hired on as a cashier at the store they worked in. But what do all of these stories have in common? Networking.
You got the job because you knew the right people. It was important to have those connections back when you were making minimum wage, and its even more important after college. The real question is how to make those connections, both as a new graduate and as a professional looking for new employees. That’s where groups like the Port City Young Professionals (PCYP) come into play.
This non-profit organization holds networking events every month in Wilmington for young adults. They meet at various restaurants throughout the city, generally drawing crowds of 70 to 100 people. They often have speakers, including the Sheriff, speakers from the Big Buddy program, and even the Mayor. PCYP also occasionally holds webinars on vital networking tools such as linkedin.
“It’s my way of giving back,” said Jenna Curry, cofounder of the group and COM Alumni Association president. “I walk around with a stack of other people’s business cards.”
The real key to groups like PCYP is connecting people just starting their careers with well-established professionals, especially UNCW alumni. As COM Alumni Association president, Jenna is in a unique position to spur these connections through PCYP. “We want to find ways for the COM alumni to participate through the year,” Jenna said in regards to encouraging networking among new and old alumni. “The more we hear from them, the more we know what things we can provide that are of value.”
The COM Alumni Association is vital to this process, and they depend on their membership to make themselves available. You may already be a member and not even realize it, as the Association is made up of everyone who has graduated from the Communication Studies department at UNCW. They are active throughout the year attending events such as COM Studies Day, Homecoming, and many others. Their goal is to connect alumni with one another as well as with current students in mutually beneficial ways. If you are interested in getting involved with the Association or just want to learn more about what they do, they have more information and links available at http://uncw.edu/alumni/com.html.
Connecting with other alumni is important for anyone serious about networking, and thankfully it’s incredibly easy to do in this day and age. Aside from the COM Alumni Association, you can stay in the loop by joining the UNCW Communication Studies Grads & Friends group on Facebook. Jobs are posted there, as well as information about networking opportunities, and alumni related events both on and off campus.
Ultimately, networking boils down to the relationships built amongst friends and coworkers, as well as events such as the ones hosted by PCYP. Networking is incredibly easy to do now thanks to so many online resources and social media platforms, but the most surefire way to be remembered is by meeting a potential contact in person.
When asked for her advice to anyone considering coming to one of PCYP’s events, Jenna stated, “you go to networking events to build relationships. Go with the mentality of leaving with more relationships than you had when you arrived... You’ve got to show up to reap the benefits.”