By Zach Rehfus

The professional world has everything to do with who you know. The way you do business can usually be reflected by how you treat people on a personal level and connect with them in a non-business setting. My goal when meeting someone is always to learn something new and gain perspective. You should try to figure out what it is that they have to bring to the conversation.

I have only recently started working at Whittaker Associates, but I wouldn’t have seen myself doing market research a month ago. Dean Whittaker is a regular at deBoer Bakkerij, a local restaurant in which I work, where we’ve been having small talk since I was about 16 years old. I would like to think that in providing Dean with years of friendly hospitality, that we had developed more of a relationship than a mere acquaintance. In working for Dean for only a few weeks, I have already met new people who I would consider myself fortunate to know. With each new connection, comes a new network of contacts, and with those new contacts comes new knowledge, new perspectives, and new opportunities.

An example of how networking can come in handy happened just this week. My colleague, Jami, and I were talking, and she was asking me about my college degree and what I hope to do once I graduate. I told her that I would like to work in a hospital setting and should probably start looking for an internship within the next year. “Let me know!” she said. “I might be able to help you make a connection since a friend of mine works in the hospital.” Needless to say, I clicked my mental “save as” button! I didn’t guess that my new job at Whittaker Associates could possibly help me in a different field of work, and I won’t underestimate the power of networking again. At the time I thought it was just a casual conversation of us getting to know each other, but it ended up being a meaningful lesson to me. You never know what may come from your next new connection!