My first reaction to everyone telling me how important networking is, was getting upset. I saw this as unfair and as a symptom of the inefficiency of the job-market. I thought the best person for the job should actually also get the job. Over the course of the following weeks however, I gained three important insights into networking:
1. Reaching out to people you have not met before is an essential business skill. This is especially true for the American business culture. By building and maintaining relationships with professionals, you prove that you have this skill. This is just the first hurdle you have to take to make it into a management position. You can also see it as the first step of your application for an internship or a job.
2. You think you are the best fit for the position? Think twice. Your own evaluation of your fit for the job might be biased and reliant on limited information. Most likely you don’t know how it is exactly working for this company or being on this particular position you just applied for. Reach out to people and talk to them. Be prepared, show interest and learn more about this particular industry or position. Start getting smart.
3. Hiring people is expensive and associated with risk. Managers reduce this risk significantly when they get to know you before hiring. Think about the time HR and the manager spend on the process. Think about the time you need to learn your ropes when you are new on the job. Think also about the bonuses and salaries new hires get. By talking to you, managers add one more step to the hiring process and get to know you better. This way they are more likely to pick the right person for the job.
Personally, I met a guy who works for my dream employer at a charity event organized by UC Davis’ Graduate School of Management. I showed him how excited I was about this company. We talked about my background and finally exchanged our contact information. Two months later, he reached out to me and asked whether I was still interested in an internship for this company. I was, so he referred me to the HR department. This is how it started and how I eventually got my internship with Tesla.
Finally, it is up to you. Do you want to be one resume out of 200 others piled up on one huge stack of paper? Or do you want to be the guy who got referred and whose resume gets far more attention from the important people? The only thing you have to do is to get out of your comfort zone and start networking. You should start now!