I don't understand social networking

Main Question or Discussion Point

I've talked to a few people and I think I get the basic gist that you talk to a bunch of people in your field, some outside, make friends and then you have a 'network' of people with certain skills you can fall back on when you need it and your own ability in that area is insufficient and vice versa when they need you.

However, practically, for some reason, I just can't fathom it. Or maybe I don't want to. I don't know. Maybe it's my background/upbringing. I haven't thought about it too much. All I know is that it's important and the few people I have asked about it, I couldn't fully understand the concept. Like who do I do it with? Why is it really that important? How do I do it? And is it really worth it if I find the person disagreeable in some way?
 

Answers and Replies

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People networks are important for keeping up with whats going on in your field.

What job are open? What new discoveries or ideas are hot? And when you hit a roadblock you have others you can chat with just like in school when you talked about homework or test problems.

You start by just making friends with your fellow students and try to keep in touch. Use LinkedIn or Indeed ... to put your resume out there and theyll associate you with others from companies and college
 
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It helps to justify relevance of particular research if there's a network of people researching similar if not identical topic. It only makes sense to communicate with each other.

They're people just like you. Talk to them like you talk to people :)
 
WWGD
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Many, if not most jobs are obtained by referral. A friend or colleague may help in this regard, or you may help them -- of course, you need to know and trust their skill level. But I believe it is best with people you like or at least do not dislike.
 
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symbolipoint
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Social networks are like what is described in the above postings. You talk casually to people you are in contact with, and later if you are in school right now, you may want to know where they are going and where they have gone to. You might contact them later and ask if some job openings exist in their companies. Better things often happen after you yourself DO get a job; because then, supervisors and other associates get to know you and your work; also other supervisors may know your supervisors or some of their associates. Much of this can help you to become known - but just understand, it is in not any way assurance of getting a new or the next job; it only helps.
 
DaveC426913
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Frankly, you don't understand it because you haven't needed it yet.
The moment you need it, you will immediately understand how it works and how valuable it is (or would be). :wink:
 
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What @DaveC426913 says is so true. Many of my student interns just drop off the radar i never hear a thing about them until years later when they need a recommendation letter and then boom i get an email with little content about what they did where they're going or when they graduate.

Its very disheartening and very common among students. They often don't think too far ahead ie their timing is off in how they do things and when.
 
Well seems like I am getting highly varying answers from all the various places that I have asked.

Just to be clear, I am not saying I don't talk to anyone who likes to or enjoys speaking to me or that I don't help when asked for. But I really don't feel comfortable going out of my way to go to parties or unnecessarily engage people because all I ever feel is that everybody gets too drunk or there is simply bland, low level, gossip, respectively or perhaps somewhat overlapping.

I think my time would be better spent honing my core skills. Networking seems more chance based than that and I haven't quite gotten a particularly motivational answer to make me seek a more active role in it than what I have described.
 
WWGD
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Good points. There is too much nonsense re the saying : it's not what you know but who you know. If you were introduced to , say, a president( of your preference) and you were clueless, lacking skills, it would do you no good. At the risk of coming of as bland, take the middle of the road here.
 
symbolipoint
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Well seems like I am getting highly varying answers from all the various places that I have asked.

Just to be clear, I am not saying I don't talk to anyone who likes to or enjoys speaking to me or that I don't help when asked for. But I really don't feel comfortable going out of my way to go to parties or unnecessarily engage people because all I ever feel is that everybody gets too drunk or there is simply bland, low level, gossip, respectively or perhaps somewhat overlapping.

I think my time would be better spent honing my core skills. Networking seems more chance based than that and I haven't quite gotten a particularly motivational answer to make me seek a more active role in it than what I have described.
Stay observant. Your time will come!
 
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And yet you need to network some in order to do well however useless you think it may be and that is the crux of your dilemma. We can't help convince you beyond what we've said already.

Only when you see it work will you say "Ahh now I understand!" but more likely you won't because you don't think it will work and you don't want to invest in making it so.

Maybe you could call it a "friendwork" instead of a "network".
 
And yet you need to network some in order to do well however useless you think it may be and that is the crux of your dilemma. We can't help convince you beyond what we've said already.

Only when you see it work will you say "Ahh now I understand!" but more likely you won't because you don't think it will work and you don't want to invest in making it so.

Maybe you could call it a "friendwork" instead of a "network".
Actually more the problem at this point I'm having is too many people and too many ideas resulting from asking everyone and the ideas are getting mixed and jumbled up.

I don't want to invest because I don't really understand how to and mostly attempting 'friendwork' has actually netted me 'not friends' instead. Given that, you can bet I am having a hard time going along with the idea.
 
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DaveC426913
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I think my time would be better spent honing my core skills. Networking seems more chance based than that
In my industry:
- you can have all the skills you want, but if you don't have someone to put your name forward, then you're just somewhere in the middle of a stack of 300 other resumes.

- a large fraction of jobs are actually gotten through connections, rather than through, say, job sites or cold resume submissions.
 
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Yes to @DaveC426913 and his comments. Companies have HR departments for a reason. They field all job requests and organize them into categories. One reason is to comply with existing fair hiring laws and another is to make it easier on the manager to find a suitable candidate. Much of this work now is done by machine learning where resumes are read by computer, keywords are identified and resumes are categorized according to skills, level of skills and educational background as well as other searchable criteria.

The problem for any job seeker is to breach this wall by crafting resumes that match what the employer is looking for in a given job posting by simply telling them what they want to hear. Your resume has to be an honest description of your skills (just not all of them) which means you must craft your resume to focus on those things the company is looking for mostly (as described in the job posting) and to discard things that aren't relevant and that may cause the ML algorithm to drop you in the wrong bitbucket of resumes.

The better approach is to have an advocate on the inside ( a networking contact) that can recommend you to a manager. I've seen many folks get hired because they went to the same school as the manager or one of his trusted employees. Indeed, some companies will send their managers and junior people to the college campuses of their alma maters looking for other like minded student candidates.

Lastly, the notion of getting an internship has helped many students land decent jobs at major companies because they were able to show off their skills. Company managers took note and immediately offered them jobs bypassing the HR screening. They also got more networking contacts.

A key point here is that any student on an internship MUST be on their best behavior because EVERYONE is watching them and they are being actively evaluated by management. Slacking off, coming in late even a few times means you're not taking the opportunity seriously enough and will detract from your overall rating. An internship is like an extended job interview and you are being seriously considered for a position at the company.

One last point, for any student on an internship, you must also seriously decide whether you even want to work for this company. Look at how they treat their regular staff, look at how offices are laid out and how management operates and make an informed decision.

You can do this on interviews too. DON'T be a bump on a log only answering the manager's questions as he/she reads your resume (the only way he/she knows anything about you) looking for holes. You need to ask for a tour of the work environment, and see if the company is open to new ideas, new innovations, new equipment. Look at how happy the employees look, how well organized and personalized are their cubicles or office spaces.

Where does networking come in? From friends you make at school, from folks you meet during internships, conferences and other events. Try to get contact info like emails or phone numbers complete with full names and their interests.

Send thank you notes (an important networking skill) to interviewers and provide answers to questions about how you can help the company do better. Its hard but the better networked you are the better chances you have of always staying on top of stuff, of staying employed and of avoiding the dreaded HR bitbucket of resumes.
 
russ_watters
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But I really don't feel comfortable going out of my way to go to parties or unnecessarily engage people because all I ever feel is that everybody gets too drunk or there is simply bland, low level, gossip, respectively or perhaps somewhat overlapping.

I think my time would be better spent honing my core skills. Networking seems more chance based than that and I haven't quite gotten a particularly motivational answer to make me seek a more active role in it than what I have described.
While it is certainly true that networking is an inefficient use of time, most people don't spend all of their waking time working, and networking events are part socializing. Most people spend about 70% of their waking time on non-work-producing activities.

Are you really saying you don't like socializing...?
 
russ_watters
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I like beer.
Three birds, one stone: beer brewing is very similar to biopharmaceutical manufacturing (part of/ adjacent to my work), so if you have an industry event at a brewery, you can get process engineering training, networking and good beer all in one place. Now that's efficient time management!
 
Stephen Tashi
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I think my time would be better spent honing my core skills. Networking seems more chance based than that and I haven't quite gotten a particularly motivational answer to make me seek a more active role in it than what I have described.
If you require a cold calculation to persuade you to do networking, several have been offered - and the conclusion (yes, do it) is futile. There has to be something natural or at last mildly tolerable about doing networking. An opportunity for networking can be as simple as attending technical talks at a local university or museum. But if you find yourself tense or uncomfortable at the coffee table after the talk, you might not make any contacts.

If you live in an isolated rural area, attending any sort of gathering might be a problem. As to honing core skills, some skills (like managing computer networks) are very specific and much in demand. Other skils, like solving differential equations, are not as specific. For example, if you are hired as a "physicist", you migth spent all your time doing computer programming and never be required to solve a differential equation. You can do a cold calculation about time allotted for honing core skills by evaluating the demand for these skills. My guess is that the time you allot to honing core skills won't be determined by that calculation. It will be determined by your interest in the subject matter. Likewise, the extent of networking will probably be determined by your natural inclination or disinclination to socialize with people in general.
 
symbolipoint
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Well seems like I am getting highly varying answers from all the various places that I have asked.

Just to be clear, I am not saying I don't talk to anyone who likes to or enjoys speaking to me or that I don't help when asked for. But I really don't feel comfortable going out of my way to go to parties or unnecessarily engage people because all I ever feel is that everybody gets too drunk or there is simply bland, low level, gossip, respectively or perhaps somewhat overlapping.

I think my time would be better spent honing my core skills. Networking seems more chance based than that and I haven't quite gotten a particularly motivational answer to make me seek a more active role in it than what I have described.
Another way to deal with networking:
Earlier I said, observe; and that your time will come. What might be said also, let the network happen mostly on its own. Don't try to push hard on the parts of the network. Participate according to your impulses; this would be more natural.
 
While it is certainly true that networking is an inefficient use of time, most people don't spend all of their waking time working, and networking events are part socializing. Most people spend about 70% of their waking time on non-work-producing activities.

Are you really saying you don't like socializing...?
Not really. After all this time I may have become a bit cynical to be honest. I have never really felt any basic courtesy, interest or goodwill reciprocated. For that matter, sometimes I feel I am going far above and beyond what is expected but only because what should be evidently the right behavior but isn't committed by others. I feel people are quick to jump at me for the pettiest things and forget any good that may have come of my being around. Much of it might just be personal but I have often felt justified in my stance, at least for isolated incidents, if nothing else.
 
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Sadly your observation is likely correct. When companies flood a community with ads the expected return is 3% positive return meaning 3 people out of 100 might be interested.

When they try targeted marketing where select people are chosen based real customer profiles you get a boost of 10% to 30% which is better but not ideal.

So now you apply that to your own experience and you can see your expectations are too high. If even one of these people help you out then you're ahead.

I think its time to close this thread as we've explored every aspect of networking and there's nothing more to add.

Thank you all for contributing here.

Jedi
 

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