Hi Shelyiah, good question!
Networking can really help with your career. You can network in order to learn more about a field, or you might network with a specific goal in mind beyond learning - like when you are specifically looking for a job. If you are thinking about a specific career and want to learn more about it, you should ask your family, teachers, and friends if they know anyone who has a job in that area. If they do, ask if they would introduce you, and you can ask the person if they would be willing to speak with you to tell you more about their work. You can ask questions like what they most like about their job, what is the most challenging part of it, how they got into the field, what a typical day is like, or what advice they would give someone considering entering this field.
When I first started networking, I was concerned that people might think it was rude when I asked them to take time to answer my questions. But don't worry about this - most people are happy to speak with you to help you learn more, since others have helped them. Just be sure to thank them for speaking with you, and if you can, send them a thank-you note or email after you talk.
Also, all of your friends, family, teachers, classmates, and acquaintances are part of your network! When you are looking for a job, or information, you can ask all of these people for help and ideas. So, just by having friends, family, and people you know from school, you are already building a network that can help you professionally in the future.
That is a great question. I wish that someone had given me advice on how to network before I got to college. My main advice is to not be shy to ask people questions. If you meet a teacher/professor that does what you are passionate about then schedule an office hours appointment. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and about their biggest accomplishments. But aside from expanding your immediate network, you will definitely need to join professional clubs. I think that joining clubs is the best way to get to know as many people as you can. You will always get different companies that sponsor certain clubs and some will even provide you with internship opportunities.
My advice for the long term is to be open minded and not hesitate to reach out to people. Get a clear goal as to what type of network you want (wether it be business or medicine or law focused) so that way you can reach out to people with similar interests and join organizations relevant to your long term plans.
Hope this helps!
Shelyiah, what type of networking are you speaking about? Do you mean like letters of reccomendation? Or experience in the field you have chosen etc? Do you have a good career path chosen for you yet? I would not too much worry about that right now. The college that you will attend will help you with exactly what you need at the career center to help you with the proper networks. This type of connectivity is called networking. With career guidance counselors, and here on career village. You are networking now. Wow great job.
Besides what Kate wrote above, one way to make connections is to do a summer internship. I would find the best people in the field you want to study and meet them in person to explain to them that (and hopefully this is true) you are excited about the field and are a hard worker and will help them any way they need it for a couple of months. This way, you can get to know them and the field and their associates - people you can stay in touch with as you move through your career.
Another way is to find out what professional organizations people in that field belong to and attend lectures or professional meetings as a student (many of these fields welcome students to these type of events and give them a special discount). Walk up to people and introduce yourself and ask questions - many professionals love to tell you about themselves and their field. Get their business card. Send them a (very) brief email afterwards telling them you enjoyed chatting with them. Effective networking doesn't happen after the first meeting, but after the second or third, so you have to stay with it. Be yourself, be enthusiastic, find out if that career is right for you, make some friends.