Sometimes life is less about what you know and more about who you know. This is especially true in business.
It may not surprise you to learn that I am a people person. While I do enjoy having time to myself, I also enjoy spending time with people. I like getting to know them, hearing their stories. I genuinely enjoy people.
I was introduced to the world of networking not long after moving to Texas. It started when I created my LinkedIn account junior year in high school. A few years later I was introduced to the world of in-person networking events. It took me a while to get the hang of this, but I did.
Online networking is a good place to start because it is low pressure and you have more time to think through what you say. It can be great for those who are more introverted or are not particularly comfortable in large crowds. It also allows you to reach out to a wider range of people than you would be able to in your day to day life.
LinkedIn is a good place to start, as it is a sort of Facebook for businesses. As I mentioned in the social media crash course post, Twitter is another great place for talking to people. Facebook groups can be a great resource as well.
For a long time, I have wanted to be a writer at BioWare. This is still one of my goals in life. Because of this, a few years ago I reached out to a few people there. One was a studio lead writer (who has since moved on) and the other was a creative director (who is still there). I told them about my love for their games and my desire to work there one day. Then I asked them for advice.
I got responses back pretty quickly and ended up doing a Skype call with the creative director. Since then I have benefited from their advice and I still keep in touch with both of them. I have also talked game writing and storytelling with several of the writers there on Twitter.
Reaching out to people on LinkedIn has also helped me land jobs and make some stellar connections.
Joining communities can be powerful as well, but that is a conversation for another post.
All in all, the key thing to remember is to treat people the way you want to be treated. And be confident in yourself. You have a lot to offer the world.
So get on out there and build your network.