Networking is Vital at Any Age

This week I attended two separate networking events.  For the first, I was asked to serve as an alumni panelist for a speed networking program set up for sports management majors on St. John’s University’s Staten Island Campus.  For the second, I helped a couple of colleagues organize the first meeting of the Central Jersey Real Estate Group in Asbury Park, NJ.  Both events were different, attracting audiences from totally different spectrums and age groups. However, the purpose of both events was the same. Create an environment conducive to learning from others, networking and making contacts, and walking away feeling like you gained something from attending the event.

For the St. John’s panel, I was one of five graduates of the St. John’s Sports Management program. Unlike my four fellow panelists who had graduated within the last few years, I was the old man in the group, having earned my degree in 1983.  There were about 25 students attending and they were broken up into groups of 3-4 members. Each group visited with one of the graduates for about 10-12 minutes and then moved on.  The students were mainly seniors, but there was one group of three freshmen.  All of them asked similar questions about how to secure an entry level position in sports and what my experiences were and advice I could lend to them in their quest to enter and stay in the profession and succeed.

My advice largely focused on keeping all options open, making sure they not only secured a strong internship, but while on the internship, ask many questions and learn as many things as possible from those they were working with. I also stressed the importance of writing.  Then, I made them understand that in order to succeed they must build relationships, maintain contacts and offer something back to others in return.

The real estate networking event was a different setting and environment. Held at the beautiful Watermark club on Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park, the event attracted about 22 individuals involved in the real estate industry. Guests ranged from attorneys, brokers, CPAs to real estate agents.  The goal of the Central Jersey Real Estate Group is to bring together leaders in the industry to share insights, learn from each other and most importantly, conduct business with each other.  The first event was well-received. There was no formal program for the first event, just an opportunity for those attending to introduce themselves, exchange business cards and learn what everyone’ specialty was.

As I explained what my firm, iMedia Public Relations does, I thought back to two nights earlier and my speed networking discussion with the students.  All of those young college students were looking ahead, hoping that they would one day have the chance to establish solid careers in the sports industry.  They were all apprehensive, wondering what lay ahead of them and the challenges they would face.   Many in the crowd that night at Watermark were apprehensive as well, discussing the impact the economy had on each of their businesses.

Thus, two different groups, one a gathering of students, the other, a contingent of real estate professionals, each had their doubts and questions about the challenges affecting their businesses and career choices.  However, all of the participants had made the right choice in learning that you cannot go at it alone.  Networking with others can help secure that first job and build your business.  If you approach these opportunities in the right way, use them for gaining knowledge and share your insights with others, networking can be a resourceful tool that you will always use for your business.

Tom Cosentino

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