Guest Post: How Networking Helped My Transition From Student to Young Professional

Today's guest post comes from career coach  for young professionals Autumn Smith. Visit her blog for more tips on how millennials can jump start their careers. This is the first installment in a three-part series titled "Stop Networking & Start Building A Network." 
A year ago today, I finished my last grad school final exam. The relief I felt in being done with school was like no other, but I knew I had a whole new challenge ahead of me. After graduating grad school in DC, I moved back to my hometown in Chicago. Although, I'm from the Chicago area, living there now, as a young professional, is much different than living there as a college student. I've had to readjust and make new friends, join new organizations, and navigate my way around this big city. Here are some things I did that could help you out during your transition.

Join an organization
From organizations in your field to alumni associations, there are plenty of different groups you can join that align with your interests. Don't only join these organizations, but become active! Join their board or volunteer at some of their upcoming events. This is a great way to get to know other members and become a familiar face for those new members looking to join.

Get involved with something you're passionate about
I love helping young professionals with development during the early years of their career, and I make that known when meeting new people. Thanks to this, I've been able to connect with people in Chicago who are passionate about the same type of things I am. I met these people through organizations I have joined, as well as LinkedIn. These connections have introduced me to their network, who then introduce me to their network, and so on.

Take risks
Before joining any of the organizations I am now a member of, I knew no one, so I attended these events alone. While, it may seem scary at first, knowing I had something in common with their members allowed me to feel comfortable, and keep the conversation flowing. I also took a risk and started my own blog. I'm not a writer, but wanted so share what I have learned, in regards to professional development, with those who may be stuck in their careers. That outlet has allowed me to network with people all over the world - from other bloggers, to people in different countries who stumbled upon my website for career advice.

While, I'm still growing and learning, networking has been an important factor in where I am in my career today. How has networking helped you get to where you are today?