I think at UD it is easy to underestimate how many resources every student has. While everyone has an array of advisors and professors, people often don’t realize the power of themselves and their peers. It is easy to forget that the students around you will become the successful people of tomorrow. I know at least in the business program, the idea of networking has been hammered into to most people, and at this point goes in one ear and out another. It is understandable, as meeting new people is often not enjoyable. I know most people I meet I don’t like, and being around them seems like a chore. However, understanding the value of relationships is essential to becoming successful and the best relationships are the ones you already have.
For example, most freshmen live in a dorm, and see many of their dorm-mates on a daily basis. It is easy to say a passing word or a smile, but those relationships you have with what I would consider acquaintances are the easiest to strengthen into something meaningful. The chance is you live around a variety of people with varied skill sets. These are the people who are the easiest to call upon when you have a problem or better yet when you want to learn a new skill. It is best practice to try and learn something new every week. It is hard for someone without developed people skills to just strike up a conversation, so trying to meet with them for a specific purpose or event may be easier. While literature on the subject often recommends articles and current events, in my personal experience that tends to be very awkward. After all, these are your friends you are meeting with, not solely coworkers. Usually, I always read something then try and do something with it in order to show my commitment to the skill and to show that I am not the master here. It puts the guest in a mentor/teacher mindset that eliminates a lot of the awkwardness since roles are firmly established.
I also try to meet with people to talk about their non-academic skills. Everyone has a hobby, and showing interest in it always puts a look of excitement on someone’s face. For example, I know one person who taught me to pick locks, another about electric skateboards, and another about personal fitness. Every person has their “thing” and appealing to that thing is mutually beneficial. Most of all, these kinds of meetings show that you value the people around you and often give a boost of self-confidence to whomever you meet with. It is a step forward for a more productive future relationship, you learn something new in the process, and hopefully strengthened a friendship.
People are the most valuable commodity that we will ever know, and having a large pool of skilled people to call upon has helped me time and time again. In these digital times forging relationships is so much more valuable. A phone call or physical meeting is so much more impactful these days because few people take the time and effort to set one up when a text could do. Relationships are hard to maintain and harder to create, but learning how to mold and manage them is a skill that provides limitless opportunities.