The Social Network

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Networking: the skill never taught but is a skill always valued.

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It’s not always about what you know, but who you know.

My parents have never really liked the extracurricular activities I’ve been involved in, whether it be the several dance teams/projects I’ve been involved with, sorority, slam team, internships and especially Polydeux. They always said they were all distractions and that I should be focusing on school.

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Although they are not completely wrong, being in different communities is what helped me build the network that I have today.

I have friends experienced with literally everything, whether it is in engineering or graphic design. If I really wanted to, I could gain experience or job opportunities through them.

But instead my heart lies in fashion, which works out because I wouldn’t be able to get my job at BCBG without the help of my buddy on the past projects we’ve been involved in together or the professional knowledge and leadership titles I’ve gained through my sorority.

If I stayed focused on school alone, I would’ve never gotten this far.

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With that being said, creating a network is the same as building a relationship or in even simpler terms, a fire. You must keep the fire going in order for you to reap the opportunities you want. Even more so, you shouldn’t network when you need something. You should network way ahead of the time you need a job.

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The same goes for meeting new acquaintances.

If you start a relationship with someone you know has a lot of connections, you will instantly put that fire out the moment you peg him or her for an opportunity. It just means you’re only using him or her for what they can give you versus befriending him or her for the sake of an actual friendship.

This is why the Drake – Trust Issues influenza has taken the world by storm.

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Vice versa – if someone you hardly knew or never met before asked you for a job opportunity, you wouldn’t be inclined to help. A friendship is based on helping each other out, dependency.

So if nothing is established and you know you’re not going to get anything back, why give out your networks? You don’t owe him or her anything.

For example, someone recently saw this collaboration and asked for my connections/contact. I never talked to this person and this person never made an effort to build any sort of relationship with me, and to be honest, it really pissed me off that I was asked this.

I worked hard for opportunities such as these to happen. I never begged for it or forced a friendship to happen because I know of the gains that could occur. Connections are not handouts.

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This can also be illustrated on a smaller scale.

When people force you to follow him or her or like/comment their pictures, either through threats or passive-aggression, where is the authenticity? Why should you do it? How are you going to benefit from it?

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It’s really sad to see that social media, a haven for connections and the digital land of opportunity, is also a birthplace for those who are only interested in their own growth.

People try really hard on the Internet to be your friend because of what you have and what you can provide for them, not necessarily because they want to be your friend.

They mask their wants by asking to ‘collab’. They don’t necessarily want to do the work for the fame. Instead, they’d rather ride off your influence to build their own.

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Once you’ve met enough of these people (me no conversate with the fake), it’s easy to identify them and you can invest your time more wisely into those that truly want to support you and help you grow.

Realize that the people around you are already an existing network. Connect with them, focus on building your relationships even more and you’ll find opportunities that were right in front of you the entire time.

Networking is a two-way street as is anything but you must put in the work and do it right. At the end of the day, don’t be a digital fccboi. No one likes those.

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Trench via Nordstrom

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Photography by Justin Quebral

 

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