Growing up I was told, “It’s who you know.”
And as the headstrong child I was, I didn’t believe the wiser people who came before me. “It doesn’t matter,” I would say. “I can do anything I put my mind to no matter who I know.”
Now, while both of these statements have truth, I believe they come together to make a truth more powerful than the last. While grit and hard work are a necessity to get anywhere in this life, I do think it’s about who you know.
But it’s not “who you know” in the sense of stepping on toes and rising to the top by climbing over other people. Rather, it’s about real relationships, true mentorship and intentional networking.
I think about my own connections. I think about my friends. They have unique skillsets, businesses and knowledge that have benefitted me greatly, both in my career and in my personal life. I have been given opportunities to learn new skillsets and try out new things. If I have a question about nutrition or fitness or photography, I can turn to my peers and ask them what their experiences have been. I know I will call my brother about business or fixing my car before Googling anything. And my mentor challenges me on a daily basis to pursue emotional and spiritual health so I can be the best me I’m meant to be.
I even think about my time in the world of magazines — recommendations and “I’ll CC you” are incredibly powerful items. I’ve been able to connect with impossible sources because of networking. If I hadn’t known so-and-so, I never would have met such-and-such. Truly, who you know can be a powerful thing.
So, I encourage you, Campus Rec Professional, to pursue relationships. Connect with those in your department, and then expand from there. Spend time at conferences and seminars networking. It can be scary to put yourself out there, to introduce yourself to someone new, but oh how wonderful a new friendship can be! You will learn an infinite amount from each relationship you establish, each networking opportunity you have.
I challenge you to pursue purposefully one relationship today. Grab a cup of coffee with the marketing director and ask them how they got where they are. Chat up your facilities manager and learn their secret to keeping the floors spotless. Find someone to be your next mentor, or maybe volunteer to mentor an eager student. Take an interest in people, learn from them, build relationships and see what incredible places they take you.