8 Millennial Women On A Time When Networking Actually Paid Off

For the third year in a row, Bustle's Upstart Awards are honoring young women who are doing incredible things in the realms of business, STEM, fashion and beauty, the arts, philanthropy, and beyond. Want to be an Upstarts honoree one day? Read on for career tips, insights, and inspiration to help get you there.

I have a deep horror of the word “networking.” Schmoozing with strangers with the hope of making professional connections is pretty much the definition of hell for me, and yet, I know I should do it. Because the truth is, awkward though it may be, networking does actually pay off. Just ask the millennial women who gave us their networking stories below.

Networking may be difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s one of the best ways to find a job. A 2010 survey of more than 59,000 people found that 41 percent said they’d gotten their jobs through networking — and that networking was a more effective route to a job than any other method, including internet job boards, agencies, and direct approaches to companies. A 2016 survey of a much smaller group (3,000 people) is even more surprising; it found that 85 percent of all jobs are acquired via networking in some form.

Needless to say, in this day and age, networking when you’re on the job hunt isn’t optional. And though the thought of attending a gathering full of strangers armed with business cards and handshakes may make you cringe, there are things you can do to make networking a little easier. “If you're new to networking, I'd recommend just going to as many events as you can,” Jennifer Yeko, rounder and recruiter at Ninjarecruiting, tells Bustle’s Amanda Chatel. “People are generally very friendly at events so just walk in with a smile on your face and look approachable.” Be sure to bring business cards with you, paste on a smile, and don’t stare at your phone the whole time. (Check out more networking tips here.)

Networking takes some practice, but you’ll find that a little effort can reap big rewards. Here are eight millennial women discussing how networking paid off for them.

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Ashley Batz/Bustle

TL;DR: Networking may seem scary, but it's usually well worth the effort. You never know which connections you make now will prove to be valuable down the road later. And if the idea of mingling for an hour makes you nervous, just remember this — Netflix will always be waiting for you when you get home.