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Building Connections: How to build connections and why does it matter?

You’ve probably heard of the term “networking.” It’s a word that’s tossed around quite a bit, especially in high school and beyond. As annoying as it may seem, networking is one of the best ways to achieve success in your desired field of interest. Let me give you an example:

Say you want to research a cure for cancer. Doing your own research is great, but it can only get you so far. The next step would be to connect with professionals to learn more about your topic, which can only be done through networking. And guess what? From networking with those professionals, you can even build connections with people for much longer. By networking, you can connect with people who are interested in the same topic and collaborate with them to make your research even better. Of course, networking and building connections can seem intimidating at first, so here are some tips to help you out!

  1. Start small. When you think about networking, it’s common to think about going to a big event and talking to lots of people. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. You can start with people you already know, like your classmates. Just strike up a conversation about a random topic (it doesn’t have to be about your career). Talk about an assignment, an event that’s coming up, the weather, or anything else. Just having these small conversations can help jumpstart a much deeper relationship with that person. 

  2. Talk to people your friends know. It may seem hard to find entirely new people to talk to. Instead, try talking to a friend for a friend! It’s very likely that you’ve met them at least once in the past, so talking with them is going to be easier for you the second time around. You can invite them to hang out, you can play video games, with them, the options are endless. Just make that first outreach, and go from there!

  3. Don’t force relationships. If you can clearly see that someone is uninterested in speaking with you, don’t pressure them. Your relationship would only be built on discomfort and disinterest, which is something you DON’T want to do. There are lots of people you can talk to, so don’t try to force someone specific to talk with you. 

  4. Put yourself out there. If you are reading this article, it’s likely because you have a hard time talking to new people. Networking and building relationships can be uncomfortable and confusing at first, but it gets easier over time. You won’t be able to progress unless you try, which means feeling a little discomfort from time to time. Of course, you should be aware of your limits and know when to stop. However, it’s very beneficial to do things like attending small events (like school events) and talking to the other people attending. If they are also there, then they probably showed up because they have similar interests as you, so you can talk about that!

As scary as it can seem, networking and building connections is a crucial part of life. You will be able to have people to go to when you’re in a bad spot, you will gain opportunities, and most importantly, you will have fun. So here’s my advice: Just start small, and progress from there. Everyone starts somewhere, and you’ve got this!

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