NICKY SAMPOGNA, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, 2009
Senior Social Media Manager, World Wrestling Entertainment
In a way, networking is my career. As the social media manager for WWE, I interact with a myriad of characters – literally. Through my travels around the world, working with different athletes, celebrities, managers, agents, and the like, I’ve found two things to be true:
1. The world isn’t all that big;
2. Nothing makes a better impression than a good work ethic and attention to the work that people are doing.
In a world where so much of what we do is online, it is necessary to connect (both digitally and in-person) with people in your sphere of work or education and, most importantly, see what and how their experiences shape their worldview. Remember, everyone has a different story, and it is up to YOU to connect with people on as many levels as possible.
For many, networking is limited to their success. “How will this help me? When can I use this connection.” Stop thinking about people that way. Immediately. A network is only useful when you are constantly thinking about how to connect everyone in it; therefore it’s far better to think about others and how you can assist them. Inconsequential or not, being known as the person who “knows who to go to” can be an incredibly valuable asset to you as you grow in your professional career.
I pride myself on assisting those who ask for help and do my best to accommodate it. Why? Because I know when someone is looking for a person on whom they can rely on to get the best possible solution to their problem, they’ll look to me. No one has all the answers, so if you know the best way to find the answer, you become that much more valuable.
Finally, you’re never too young to start building a network that can work for you. Classmates, colleagues, the guy you buy flowers from or the barista down the street–you can help all these people and, in turn, they can all help you. We refer to ourselves as a circle, a group that is inclusive of others; men and women who work to make their campuses a better place. Continue to help that circle grow.
BREA NERI, JUNIATA COLLEGE CIRCLE, 2013
Senior Manager, Communications, Junior Achievement of Greater Washington
“It’s not about what you know; it’s about who you know.”
We’ve all heard this saying at one point or another in our professional lives. I’m not going to spend time debating the credibility or relevance of this statement because, on one hand, I do agree that professional connections are essential to upward mobility in most careers. However, I would not go so far as to say that they are the only or most important factor in career growth.
To me, the value of networking is more about what you know because of who you know. I’ll explain.
Simply forging professional connections, exchanging business cards, or extending a LinkedIn invitation, is not enough. Engaging with those connections in meaningful ways, in hopes
of learning as much as possible is where I feel the value of networking lies.
Professionally, I am continually trying to seek out opportunities for self-improvement and growth. And what better way to learn than to connect with and absorb the knowledge of those who came before you. Every person you engage with has completely different circumstances and experiences that have shaped their journey. There is so much to learn from others’ stories, trials and tribulations, and accomplishments.
Furthermore, I’ve found that often you might learn a lot from a connection that doesn’t initially seem like he or she may have much to offer you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in conversation with someone only to find that his or her sister-in-law, son, or neighbor would
be an excellent connection for me to make. And if you genuinely invest in and engage with every professional you encounter, they are often more than happy to make those crucial introductions for you.
Networking can undoubtedly be a challenge at times. It can be intimidating, awkward, and nerve-racking. I try to approach every networking opportunity with an open mind and desire to connect and learn. I feel that with this approach, subconsciously, a great deal of pressure is removed and one can forge more authentic and valuable connections. For that reasons, I’d encourage every professional adopt this approach to reap the most benefits from their networking endeavors.
SHINJINI DAS, GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY CIRCLE, 2014
Founder and CEO, The Das Media Group
Networking is a polarizing word. Some people love networking. Others abhor networking with an intense passion. As a media professional, I am always curious about why people are so passionate about topics they have seen covered extensively in the media, networking being one of them.
In my conversations with Uber drivers, stay-at-home moms who want to get back into the workforce, small business owners, and soon to be college graduates, the one recurring theme is that networking is a chore. Each time I hear this, I say that networking is not a chore but a series of 1:1 conversations. I think that if we shift our perspectives around what networking is and how much networking can transform our lives, we will invest with love.
I have a deep relationship with networking. Upon graduating as an O∆K member and industrial engineer from Georgia Tech in 2014, I knew several successful people who were eager to help me get started in my career. There was only one issue, and this issue was that I did not know a single person in the media industry who could have helped me. So, I did what I knew how to do, through some years of experience in O∆K. I started connecting with many different people 1:1, and I fell in love with connecting with people. At 22, I realized that I would probably have to connect with people a lot, considering that I ultimately wanted to transition from technology consulting to the media and entertainment industries, quite a high jump, and critically, not a jump that many have made successfully.
Along my journey, I leveraged digital media platforms to reach out to people who have helped me navigate the shark waters of media. You must understand that I started in this industry with no connections and no prior experience, which is why “networking” is how I have survived. I do credit O∆K as the launchpad to develop my ability to connect with people. As a senior at Georgia Tech, I co-led O∆K’s Georgia Tech Leadership Conference, inviting the executive vice president of the Harlem Globetrotters, whom I connected with at an event in New York, as the keynote speaker. She was the first conference keynote speaker at the time who was not a Georgia Tech alumna.
I promise that if you consider networking as a series of 1:1 conversations wherein you learn about how people think, who they are, and what they want, you too will fall in love with humanity and grow with multi-dimensional perspectives in your careers just as I have.