Most college students hear the mantra “network, network, network” if you want to get a job after graduation. And while most graduates hear what their professors are saying, actually diving in and doing it is a different thing. But it works. Let me tell you how I got my first several internships and, now, my first real job.

From internships at Fletcher Rowley, Inc., a political consulting firm, to the Tennessee General Assembly with Sen. Jeff Yarbro, and now at MP&F, my network has helped me climb the ladder. That’s not to say I didn’t work hard or do everything I needed to so I could be in this position, but rather to point out how big an impact networking can have.

While I may not be on the job hunt anymore (thank you, MP&F), I’m always looking to expand and maintain my network. Taking the time to get to know individuals in different industries will not only provide insight into their work, but may open the door to several opportunities in the future. Because you never know when the person you had coffee or lunch with months ago can develop into a client or a close friend.

For instance, as an undergrad, I cold-emailed around 50 to 60 elected officials, government relations experts and PR professionals. Did all of them get back to me? Of course not. But the ones who did helped me grow, develop and get to where I am today. Not only that, but they have become some of my closest mentors and friends.

Networking isn’t a science. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. Whether you cold-email someone or follow up with them after an event, networking isn’t as hard as it seems. It does take time and effort, but the benefits it provides outweigh any costs associated with it.

At MP&F, we can’t say enough good things about the power of networking. Whether you’re just starting off your career or have been around the block, networking is a beneficial tool that should be used by everyone. Also, remember that, when networking, it’s not a one-sided game. Be sure you’re offering help and guidance, if possible, so the relationship is mutually beneficial.