So I’m in a position where I meet a lot of important people who come to the laboratory where I work. Important people like retired admirals, generals, heads of governmental departments, foreign diplomats, experts in various subjects. Not gonna lie, it’s pretty cool.
Before I started this job, I had made a LinkedIn and I had heard that if someone gives you their business card, you should contact them and thank them. Those don’t sound like a big deal. And turns out that I have two different co-workers who have very different views on the use of networking. One of them never does networking, doesn’t really use LinkedIn; he’s also worked for his entire career at the same place and will probably never leave the laboratory. Another one of my co-workers is all about networking and if she meets you once, she’ll add you on LinkedIn; she also was a stay at home mom for most of her adult life and finally got out into the workplace once her kids went off to college. So two very different approaches to work and two very different approaches to networking.
I get the opportunity to see both of these people and how they operate in the working world and with other people. Neither approach is wrong, but the way that I see it, even if networking isn’t going to help me, at least it can’t hurt me. All it takes out of me is the time to write a nice email to someone who gave me their business card or to send a message with a connection request on LinkedIn. And I already have some pretty cool people as my connections: the Deputy Director of the lab, a retired 4-star admiral, some high ranking officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration. So who knows? Maybe those connections will come in handy someday.