Networking is a funny thing. One walks a fine line between brown-nosing and sincerity.
In the 34 hours I have been in D.C., I have heard stories all across the board. One 25-year-old gentleman was the press assistant for the office of press secretary for President Bush and has traveled to 23 different countries on Airforce 1 with the president the past few years. On Friday, he and his family took a photo with the president in the Oval Office and walked out of the White house for the last time as Bush’s administration is coming to an end. I asked him, “How did you land this job?” He responded, “I was at the right place at the right time.”
As we met with SMU alumni tonight, everyone seemed to have a similar story. He met his boss at a reception and exchanged business cards and emailed a resume the next week and then interviewed the next. She was introduced to her firm through a professor who put her in touch with someone, she landed an interview, and then the next month she was working in her dream job. Again, “How did you get where you are?” The response is, “Knowing the right people and being at the right place at the right time.”
Meeting these people, listening to their stories encourages me to use these networking opportunities when they present themselves. Perhaps all that it takes is a little practice.