Monday, December 7, 2009

Networking: Cultivation of Opportunity

By: Denyel Beiter

Editors Note: Denyel Beiter is a 2009 SUNY Geneseo graduate. She is currently employed at the True Community Development Corporation in Buffalo as the Americorps Vista. She was the president of Democracy Matters at SUNY Geneseo.

One of the most important characteristics that we each possess as part of the human race is the ability to connect with each other on an intimate level. This is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. The ability to build relationships and to feel united with one another allows us to feel bigger than ourselves, to feel like a part of something, and most importantly, it allows us to be shaped and molded into someone we never dreamed we could be.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in the first few months of my career is the significance and impact of networking. By networking and establishing relationships, we find a little of ourselves in others. We can rely upon these relationships as steps to different opportunities in our personal and professional lives.
This is not to suggest that we use each other solely for our own benefit, but to merely extract and reciprocate goodwill and community.

As I write this article I think of this past week when I had an epiphany about the significance of networking. I work in a non-profit organization in inner-city
Buffalo where I help to run a job readiness program. A major component to the program is teaching the importance of networking. One young man in particular, who comes from a low income neighborhood, has been in and out of jail, and is unemployed, took advantage of a networking opportunity right away. After telling him my experience with working on job readiness initiatives and skills, he became wild eyed and set up an appointment with me so that I could council him on writing his very first resume.

He came into the office on time and ready to work.
We worked together and collaborated ideas and information that needed to get across to an employer. I taught him the basic structure and detailed tips of a resume. He taught me that by helping others and building relationships we can truly change lives. He began to cry, hug me, and tell me that he could not believe that someone would help him and take the time to care for him. His eyes widened and he said, “Now I have an opportunity. Now I have a future.”

Author and public speaker, Bob Burg describes networking as “the cultivating of mutually beneficial, give and take, win-win relationships. It works best, however, when emphasizing the 'give' part."

I challenge all readers to keep networking. Whether it is for personal or professional reasons, we are human and we are here to interact, encourage, and motivate each other. When we collaborate, our ideas and output can transcend expectations and goals. We all have gifts to share as well as room for improvement.