They say it takes a village to raise a child; however, I feel the same can be said for building your career. Fresh out of college, I was eager to find a job, but I had no idea where to get started. I had no real job experience in my field, English, and very few writing samples outside of the million essays I composed in college. I moved home and pondered what to do next. That’s when I turned to my father for advice. What did he suggest? “Build a network. It’s all about who you know.”

So, off I went to perfect my LinkedIn page and start making connections. I started with friends and family. From there, my family members suggested people in their networks for me to connect with who had experience in my field. Soon after, I was talking with people who knew of companies in the area looking for someone, like me. I started receiving emails and texts regarding vacant positions. About six months later, I gained employment at my first editorial position.

Networking is everything nowadays, folks. When I began my position at The NEWS, I was far from an HVAC expert; however, my managing editor suggested I join our LinkedIn group and many other industry-related groups to connect with HVAC professionals to learn from. I was amazed at how receptive people from the industry were to accept my request to connect and provide assistance researching and writing articles. And so began my HVAC networking initiative.

My HVAC network has since evolved past LinkedIn. I started traveling and meeting contractors, manufacturers, distributors, and organizations and making personal connections with them at events.

We’d exchange business cards, and when I returned, I now had dozens more people to connect with when it came time to write an article on topics they, not I, are experts on.

Earlier this year, I attended the AHR Expo in Las Vegas, my first work event. My favorite part of the event was being able to meet the awesome individuals who’ve taught me about this industry since day one. Putting a face to an email address or phone number has made things that much more personal. Chatting in person was a refreshingly human experience. From there, I was introduced by contacts I already knew to other individuals in the industry, which snowballed into a giant network of connectivity. Organizations, manufacturers, distributors, contractors — I left with a fat stack of business cards and a smile on my face.

Recently, I attended the HARDI Congressional Fly-In in Washington D.C. During my two days there, I connected with numerous people and returned home with at least 15 new business connections. Since then, I’ve utilized these sources and am so grateful I had the opportunity to connect with these wonderful individuals. In particular, I know very little about refrigeration, and I now have a solid contact to turn to, thanks to my time at the HARDI event. I also had few distributor contacts prior to the event. Now, I have at least six people I know I can call at any time. Networking is crucial to the building blocks of a well-rounded career.

For those looking to start or find a new job in the HVAC industry, in my opinion, your first step should be to build a network. Whether you’re a recent tech school grad or a seasoned veteran, without a network, you’re limiting yourself from an ample amount of connections and opportunities you may not even be aware of. So, attend events, build a LinkedIn page, and reach out to those around you.

While it’s imperative to be in the “know,” it’s critically important to know the right people, as well.   

Publication date: 7/10/2017

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