i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » How We Communicate

Creating Opportunities through Communication and Networking

During our school careers so much emphasis is placed on academic results and demonstrating our technical skills and subject knowledge under exam conditions. It is understandable that we tend to focus on these hard skills and performance metrics as the key to success in our careers and lives. However secondary school students can also start to think about building connections as an important foundation for their future. Networking involves developing contacts with people, including peers, teachers, and professionals in one’s field of interest. These connections can lead to so many great opportunities later. We could think of networking as planting seeds that will grow into something wonderful in the future with the investment of time, care, and attention.

Networking is a shortcut to knowledge and understanding in an area you are potentially interested in, whether this is already your passion, or whether it is simply a field you would like to explore and learn more about. Talking to people involved in that field is a great start and will make the learning process so much faster than if you try to do it alone and will help to answer many of the questions that arise as you explore. As students make contacts, talk about ideas and exchange resources they are creating something like a web of support, their contact list will grow as they get to know the people their contacts know. It may be that when there is an exciting job or learning opportunity one of these contacts will think of you and let you know. Imagine you are a young person applying for a job in a competitive market. The knowledge, experience, and relationships you have formed while networking can help you to stand out among hundreds of other good candidates.

Don’t be afraid to make contact and talk to people. By reaching out to others who share their passions young people can show their confidence, initiative, and curiosity. In this way students will often make a positive impression on people who in many cases will be willing to help them, especially when one is starting out on a career journey. Making this kind of good impression is valuable and as you get to know people they decide if you are just the kind of person they want to work with in the future. When this happens you overtake others who may have great academic results but who haven’t put the same amount of time and effort into developing their soft skills and personal relationships as you have.

So…if you, or someone you know, are applying to a university you might talk to a member of staff about studying a subject that is your true passion; if you are applying for a job, you might be able to chat to others who have gone through the application process before via an online forum and benefit from their tips and advice; if you are a writer, you can talk to other writers and editors who share your interests and hugely improve your chances of being published. You might find that as well as making contacts you also make friendships that last a long time. Remember that communication is key and, if you are a good networker, the first place to go when looking for the next step in your career can be your contacts list.