A lot! Networking is important for all business careers, but essential to entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs need to get out into the world, develop connections, maintain connections, be open, listen, and just plain develop good networking skills. One thing I see many students doing is networking on Facebook. But where Facebook has been a social site, only in the recent past has it taken on a business component. However, it is still social. LinkedIn is for the professional. More and more we will see online and face-to-face integrate into networking opportunities.
But the face-to-face is a skill you must develop or you’ll stay stuck behind the computer.
A quick story. When my daughter was in 3rd grade, she brought home a homework sheet that had 2 columns of 3 circle down each column. Under each circle was a time: 3:15, 4:00, 9:30, etc. Her assignment was to draw the face of the clock with the correct time. She couldn’t do it. You know why? She had a digital watch on her arm at that time, big, massive and ugly. She could tell me what time it was, by reading the numbers. But she could not look at the clock face and draw the appropriate time. They (and her parents) hadn’t spent time with her to teach her the basics, we just skipped to digital. So I sat down with her and taught her what she really needed to know.
We are all networking online, but many of us either have forgotten that face-to-face is where it began, or just don’t know how. Face-to-face networking is what you need to be doing when you are living, working away from the computer. The entrepreneurship and other business classes are the ideal place to network. These are your colleagues, now in university classes, and definitely in the future. And just look how we have turned to Facebook to reconnect with ‘old’ and new friends. So how do you network while still in school? Keep in mind when you look around next time you are in class, these are the folks you will be seeing out there as entrepreneurs, bankers, lawyers, fellow employees or your employers. They will remember you: the guy who came late to class all the time; the gal who you worked with on that project; the computer geek who knew just about everything there is to know about computers; the one who never came to class but somehow graduated.
If you want to develop your networking skills, join a student organization. One I highly recommend is Toastmasters, an international well-respected, renown organization! They have a Facebook site: Toastmasters at UTSA.
Check out this 1 minute comment from a Stanford Professor.
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