The American Dream: What You Know or Who You Know?

The job market is tough, the housing market is abysmal, and the education system is broken. Today, trying to live the American dream is virtually impossible. We are going to school to learn skills and putting ourselves in massive debt just to get a job. However, learning the skills and getting a degree doesn’t necessarily guarantee us a career in the current market.

Even if we do get a job, the income still likely won’t supplement the mortgage process, allowing the American dream of buying a house and sharing it with a family to slip away. The income disparity of the corporate model of employment is just one of the many economic problems that are contributing to the rich getting richer, while the poor get poorer.

Solace can be found in that our social media-driven culture proves that companies and careers can be made by who you know rather than pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. The realities of job networking are impossible to ignore. In fact, there is a whole social media platform built on professional networking. Furthermore, social movements have been assisted by the aid of social networking — providing the organization and communication needed to get things done.

Whether your goal is to start a new career, spark a social change, or just increase your income to be able to reach the dream of affording your own house, networking is going to be critical for you.  Even if you are going to become self-made, you must make yourself memorable through networking. So, exactly how important is professional networking in today’s current job market, progressive political campaign, or social justice movement? Read below to find out.

Why Professional Networking is Important

Whether you are an activist looking to further your cause, a young politician trying to push out the old ways, or simply a college graduate hoping to get a job, professional networking will be extremely beneficial in your efforts. How else are you going to find allies for your cause, people for your vote, or get a jump on job opportunities? It’s not hard to imagine that, when job hunting, you didn’t get the job because someone else who knew a member of the company was hired over you. This is not uncommon. Professional networking is essential to keep in the loop and create more opportunities, especially when trying to land a job.

Professional networking, whether through social networks or face to face, gives you a significant advantage by putting your name — and face — in front of the people it needs to be. And, in today’s job market, this could be the difference between continuing to look for a job or starting your career. Get the ball rolling by making connections with people in the industry you are interested in getting into. As an activist, talk to leaders of organizations that have the same views as you to grow stronger as a movement. If you are looking to be a young politician, let people know your name, values, and what you stand for in making politics more progressive. Although, it is easy to grasp the concept of professional networking, putting it into action is a different ballgame.

Putting Your Professional Networking Into Action

The above means nothing if you can’t network correctly. In some instances, you may not be setting yourself apart from the others, and making your name stand alone. In other cases, you might come off as disingenuous. These negative connotations will be more hurtful than helpful. Dishonest politicians and unfair labor practices are what you are trying to fight, so it is beneficial to you — and everyone else — to represent yourself in a truthful manner, and build meaningful relationships with like-minded people and organizations.

When networking with others, it helps to be honest and sincere in the way you communicate — and this includes listening. You want others to hear what you have to say, so why wouldn‘t you do your best in listening to them? Furthermore, this facilitates the open exchange of ideas that is needed to move a social justice cause, political campaign, or hiring talks forward. Honesty and communication can only get you so far, however, and you will need to do more to make yourself stand out.

If you are sincere in your networking, expressing an interest in others and respecting their interests may come naturally. Being consistent and staying in touch with the contacts that you make with meaningful conversation can go a long way in making a person notice you. So send an email or text, or schedule a meeting with potential contacts and allies to let them know that their values align with yours and soon the talks will blossom into how to move forward together. If you are trying to build a brand, in the instance that you are a social entrepreneur, nonprofit, or a start-up company — basically trying to become your own boss — it never hurts to have swag with your company cause on it such as a coffee cup, T-shirt, or hat. Not only will this make you stand out, but people who don’t even know you will be enlightened and aware of your cause.

Networking is just too important for any job seeker, social justice cause, progressive politician, or anyone trying to make a name for themselves and make a difference. The information above can help get your name and voice out to the people — possibly making a change in the world. It is unrealistic that you’ll make it alone, so get some allies in the fight.

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