The Importance of Establishing Connections: How to Build Authentic Networks in Graduate School
Many of us have heard that the world is no longer focused on what it is that we know, but instead now is all about who we know. As individuals are pursuing advanced degrees at higher rates, the world is becoming more and more competitive. With several people conveying similar skill sets and bringing identical credentials to the table, the job market is now oversaturated with talent. This has resulted in the increasing power of connections within professional spaces. In other words, knowing the right person or people in addition to your qualifications can set you apart from the crowd and open doors to various opportunities that are otherwise unattainable. Given this reality, people are placing a higher degree of energy and effort to build networks with the “right” parties. As people, it is important to establish connections, but to do so authentically. Thus, I came up with five ways to do so.
1. Be Yourself
As cliché as it may sound, it is important that you remain true to who you are. There is nothing more disheartening than acting like something or someone other than yourself. In order to establish an authentic connection you, as an individual you have to be genuine. It’s a simple as that.
2. Be Open Minded
Just as you’re learning within your graduate program, life is a continuous lesson. It is very important to be willing to expand your horizons. As people we can become stuck in our ways, but we must always remain open minded. Being able to consider new ideas is critical to self-development and growth. Being open to new possibilities can lead to new connections. You just have to be willing to explore different options.
3. Be Outgoing
The world waits for no one. It can be very uncomfortable to meet new people, but sometimes you just have to step outside of your comfort zone and try. Whether you're an introvert or extrovert, it is important to be able to put yourself out there. There are millions of people in the world focused on getting to where they wish to be. In order to flourish you have to be able to adapt to various settings and people. Being outgoing will allow you to meet new people, establish new connections and expand your network.
4. Be Genuine
There is nothing worse than seeking someone out just for your own benefit. It is extremely important to be sincere when attempting to forge authentic bonds with others. Most individuals are skilled at detecting people who are attempting to use them. Having ulterior motives rooted in selfish desires will not do you in any good in the long run. If anything, it will make people distrust you and not want to associate with you. Being insincere will result in shallow and surface level relationships which will be of no use to you in the long run.
5. Be Consistent
Finally, if you desire to have a strong network and fruitful and long lasting connections, it is important to be consistent. Showing up, being present and devoting time is key to establishing any healthy relationship. The more effort you put into something, the better results come from it. To maintain a valuable network, you must continuously add to its perpetuity. The more you invest in your connections the stronger your network becomes. Consistency is key!