When someone mentions the importance of networking, do you hear – wah, wah (a la Charlie Brown’s teacher)? As a young pro looking to start a professional life in Indianapolis myself seven years ago, I kept hearing, “it’s all who you know … do you go to any networking events?” I’d roll my eyes and cue the wah, wahs. As I talked about in my last blog post, I was lucky enough to stumble into a career that I love, but I fully acknowledge I was lucky (which is why it took 18 months to find and I’d nearly resigned to being a bartender the rest of my life). Looking back, I wish I’d listed to those who were trying to teach me the importance of networking, because it really is a key component of a successful career.

Networking is not just about finding a job, and it’s not having a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook or WUPHF (though it can get you a new job and involves social media). Networking is part of building a successful career. Done right, it builds your professional network – I know another cute and fuzzy phrase. Tangent (and another blog post entirely), but a professional network is a real thing. It’s that thing you rely on when you need advice on a new topic that’s blowing your mind, are looking for new clients, or want to know what new and innovative things are happening in your professional sphere.

When you look at networking through that lens – as a component of success – do the wah, wahs quiet? If not, maybe you’re just not there yet – you’re probably just still getting up in the morning, showering and driving to work only to hit the five o’clock hour and get home. But, trust me, you’ll get there. Regardless, whenever you finally realize the importance of networking you’ll want to do it right. That’s where Jamar Cobb-Denard, a fellow young pro himself, comes in. Jamar’s job is making sure you “do” networking right. He’s going to talk about it at the upcoming Young Pros Conference on May 17. Will you be there? If your answer is “no” I encourage you to ask yourself, “When am I going to start building my professional network?” Then, check him out in this video we put together … you’ll see he’s not lame. I mean, come on, it was zombies, measles and a dog that inspired one of his important networking realizations. Intrigued?