Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Power of Networking: Utilizing Your Connections to Make Your Dreams Come True

-->Written by Lauren Lind

This past November I decided that I wanted to move to New York City after I graduate in May. At that point in time I had no plans or ideas of how I was going to make that dream come true. A month later, I found out that the CU Advertising Collective was going to New York over spring break for their annual trip. I took that as a sign that my dream of moving to New York was, in fact, possible!

I began the networking process by talking to my advertising professor who ran a very large advertising agency in NYC before she came to teach at CU. I respect this professor a lot and she was very supportive of my aspirations. She told me, “Picking up and moving to New York was the best decision I ever made.” She then sent a message via LinkedIn to her former students who are living and working in NYC asking them if they would be willing to meet with me just to give me some insights and advice.

I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who responded and were willing to meet with me! From there, I had 14 more contacts in New York than I had before. I met with these amazing people while I was In New York and had the opportunity to tour many offices including Twitter and Foursquare, and received tons of useful advice regarding job searching, interviewing, my resume, and moving to the city. I was in awe of how helpful and wonderful people were to me.

At a Bolder Young Professionals event, a networking group in Boulder, I met networking guru Nancy-Chin Wagner. I did not know who she was before being introduced to her, but soon found not only is she one of the coolest ladies around, but she grew up in the Bronx and worked in New York for many years. I explained my goal to her and she whipped out her phone and gave me the phone number of a former CU alumnus who moved to NYC after graduation four years ago. I called the alumna and we scheduled a time to meet while I was in NYC. Once I was there, she gave me many tips regarding apartment hunting and introduced me to another CU alumnus. He has been so helpful with job searching and connecting me with people who are looking to hire in the city.

Nancy also put me into contact with her niece who lives in Chinatown. When I was there she showed me where I could get authentic Chinese food (which was delicious!) and she also sent me some media-related job openings. It amazes me that I met all these people just by simply approaching one person at a networking event.

Another event that greatly helped my networking process was Career Services Executives Tell All Panel in February. I listened to executive, Cathie Black’s, story of graduating college and moving to NYC with friends. I felt inspired to see someone who started off just like me and has now accomplished so much. Cathie is the past Chairman/President of Hearst Publishing, an author, past President of USA Today, a former NYC schools chancellor, and many more accomplishments. I approached her after the panel and although I felt a bit intimidated, I asked for her contact information and told her my goals and that I would be in New York over spring break. She gave me her contact info agreed to meet with me while I was in NYC.

Not only was she willing to meet with me, but she also was willing to help me connect with people in New York! Cathie introduced me to her friend who is the founder of a fantastic PR firm and I was lucky to be able to discuss their internship program! I was also awestruck by the fact that such an accomplished businesswoman was willing to help me find job and internship opportunities. Cathie at one point told me that “following up is key,” and it definitely has been an important piece of advice. Following up with Cathie led to me finding out about this wonderful internship opportunity!

The power of networking has changed my life and has turned my dreams of moving to NYC into an actual action plan. Following up and thanking everyone for his or her time is also very important when it comes to networking. Networking can happen anywhere at any time, so be prepared. You never know how the people you meet can change your life!

If you are unsure about where to network in Boulder, Bolder Young Professionals hosts great networking events every month, and I would highly recommend joining this group as a current student or even as a seasoned professional. I have learned to be open to talking with as many people as possible and learning as much as I can because wonderful opportunities can arise from the most unplanned meetings!