Networking: Meaningful in Moderation

Today I’m featuring another A-Z Challenge guest blogger. Welcome Catherine from Never Stationary!

Networking seems to be both inevitable and essential to my daily life here in college.

If you’re not joining a sorority for the sisterhood, you’re joining for the social connections. They can get you many things, from access to a party to an in for an important job or internship.

In applying for a student group on campus, I was told that in order to be accepted, I probably had to know people on the inside who would vouch for me. Meaning that even if I didn’t particularly enjoy someone’s personality, it shouldn’t deter me from being their friend because there were advantages to gain from the friendship.

Me uncomfortably networking at a networking event.

Catherine uncomfortably networking at a networking event.

At times, it seems very insincere to talk to people mainly because you want to take advantage of their social situation.

But when you consider the calculative and capitalistic nature of modern day society, you can view these connections in a different light and slowly come to accept/tolerate them. Interpersonal connections stop becoming about one taking advantage of the other and start becoming a two-way street for individuals to contribute what they can to help others out.

As much as I dislike the concept of networking, some people believe that our main purpose here (in college) is not necessarily to learn something or leave with a major, but simply to network and develop connections.

This makes sense, it really does. However, what I’ve learned over this year is that it’s essential not to let networking take over your life. Focusing on it detracts from the amount/quality of meaningful relationships you can maintain with people. You know, the ones that aren’t based on who you know or who your parents are? The ones that consist of weekends in and movie marathons?

Notice that I said maintain, not just make. Making them is easy enough, but maintaining and nurturing friendships takes patience and effort.

Networking can be beneficial in moderation. Just be sure to know when the timing is appropriate. Don’t commoditize your friendships.

Catherine is a college first-year at Northwestern University. You can visit her blog here.

This post is part of my April A to Z Challenge. For more All Things College posts, click here

21 thoughts on “Networking: Meaningful in Moderation

  1. I have to say, I’m rubbish at networking. I just feel so fake and hypocritical that I get really awkward and it’s just unpleasant all around. I used to have to do it for work and hated every second of it – although a gin and tonic or two helped loosen things a little :)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never been that good of a networker. I tend to value genuine connections over connections for the purpose of getting something done. However, everyone sometimes connects to people merely for getting something out of the relations other than friendship. I for one have a pretty large circle of FB friends, some of whom I merely added because they’re admins of groups I wanted to be in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve adopted a new outlook on networking in which my goal is to learn from the other person. When knowledge is your endgame, not a job or personal gain, it at least FEELS more meaningful and tends to BE that way too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Networking has its purposes, and it helps to think about it as though you’re *not* making friends. You can totally spread yourself way too thin if you’re trying to be besties with everybody you shake hands with. It’s enough to realize that some people will be friends because you can booze together, some because you do labwork well together, some because they inspire you, and some because they know people you want to know. Maybe it’s harsh, but not all friends will be equal, and being honest with yourself about your intentions is part of networking too.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can’t say enough about a great book called Your Network is Your Net Worth by Porter Gale. It has a great take on networking, which she calls “give give get.” Once you see networking as helping others who in turn may help you someday in a way you might not even expect, it’s much more satisfying.


  5. I didn’t really network with anyone but my GSIs and professors in university. I kind of regret it, but in the end, I realize the thing that would have been more beneficial to me was to get an internship or take some business classes, even if business wasn’t my major.


  6. Love that concept of it being a two-way street to get things done and help each other out. Networking can feel really fake and manipulative, especially when college people first tell you to do it, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I just try to envision everyone as “possible future coworker.” You don’t have to be besties with everyone, but you can still be friendly, express an interest in their research area, things like that. It’s entirely possible they will be future coworkers through accident, OR that one or more of you will eventually think “Hey, I know somebody interested in that field, maybe we could do an article together…”


  7. Pingback: On The #AtoZChallenge | Victim to Charm

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