Networking is for more than just business

What’s so important about getting to know your professional partners?

by Courtney Johnson

As a student at the University of Minnesota, I rely heavily on the people I know in making more connections. I find myself constantly introducing myself to new people and finding ways to connect with them on a personal and âÄî if IâÄôm lucky âÄî a professional level.
With a variety of social networking resources, the ability to make connections and network with people in my respective field has become very easy. Creating relationships, however, is a different story.
So whatâÄôs the difference between superficially climbing the corporate ladder and identifying a potentially rewarding social relationship with those who surround you?
A common phrase that I have heard many times is, âÄúItâÄôs not what you know, itâÄôs who you know.âÄù Yes, this is mostly true, but this common cliché doesnâÄôt get down to the core of success and shaping who we become.
Life is much more than what we choose to do for a living. The core of our lives is the story that transpires behind the job title and the integrity that we carry along with it. The people that we meet shape who we become.
 As Harvard professor Nicholas Christakis once said, âÄúGraphite and diamond are both made of carbon, but are connected differently.âÄù He was right: The same material is capable of making two completely different compounds.
Thinking about this and how it relates to choosing how I interact with professionals, I ask myself this: Would I rather possess a slab of graphite (a simple connection) or a rare diamond âÄî a more intricate web made of the same carbon molecules? IâÄôd choose the diamond, and not just because itâÄôs glitzy and glamorous. The more solid the connection is the better.
A professional network can help achieve career goals, but the emotional and intellectual guidance that can be found in strong personal relationships can help us to become better people and achieve our goals in life. So nurture your relationships âÄî make your connections count.

Courtney Johnson welcomes comments at [email protected]