There is an old saying that many business students may be sick of hearing by now: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” While this dictum may have some legitimacy, it is very misleading since it suggests that effective networking alone is the sole reason for an individual's success in his or her career.
In a more distant time when nepotism and cronyism ran rampant, this saying may have been much more accurate. In these more modern times, however, the game is changing rapidly and relying on this outdated advice will likely bring disappointment to the believer.
Over the course of history, networking has always played an important role in the developing one's personality and career.
Now that the human race has entered the technological age, it is imperative to adapt old ways of thinking and behavior to fit this era.
A person with a high school degree was once able to land a job on Wall Street because of the connections that he or she had. While those days are gone for the most part, the prospect of gaining employment solely based on the people one interacts with still dominates the ideology of many people.
In fact, there have been many innovations that have capitalized on the concept of networking. LinkedIn is the most prominent example; the website boasts a market cap of $25 billion and a network that holds just shy of half a billion users.
LinkedIn is, more or less, the professional version of Facebook and the medium through which modern day businesspeople practice networking.
The biggest criticism against networking is that many people feel it lacks substance. Far too often the individual who is attempting to network is driven by self-serving ideals.
The relationships that stem from networking are strictly transactional, which is frankly a waste of time for all parties involved.
No one ever wants to feel like a means to an end.
This seems to be one of the biggest complaints among fellow students who attend networking events at Baruch College and at other locations. Instead of fostering superficial relationships, students should aim to build long-lasting relationships with others with the intention of helping, not simply meeting them.
Buddha was believed to have said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” This does not mean one should simply sit idly and wait for the right person to enter his or her life, but rather he or she should spend time and effort cultivating the mind in preparation for the opportunities that may arise.
A professor once said that it is not who you know, but rather it is those who know you who will lead you to great success.
This requires knowledge so the individual can be seen as valuable and thus reap the benefits that networking provides. Ultimately, to be truly successful in any ambition, it is imperative to be well-balanced in both knowledge and networking.