Networking is a necessary — and misunderstood — skill. Here’s how to hone it.

Teresa Xie in Vox:

At the end of my sophomore year of college, I found myself at a career crossroads. The pandemic hit a few months earlier and like most students across the country, I was kicked off campus and sent back home. As I spent the remainder of the school year sitting idly in my childhood bedroom, I had no choice but to wrestle with the ever-looming question: What do I really want to do with my life?

Media and culture had always been passions of mine, but I never saw them as viable paths to pursue. But the dreariness of the pandemic shook me, and I decided to pivot from business to journalism with no portfolio, no connections, and no experience during what seemed like the most inopportune time to make a career switch. The only resource I had at my disposal was the internet — and turns out, I didn’t need much more. Over the next few weeks, I scoured the depths of Twitter — reading profiles of journalists my age and seasoned writers with dream gigs. I figured the best way to learn more about the industry was to actually talk to people who were in it. I cold Twitter-DM’d anyone I thought was remotely interesting and asked to hop on the phone with them. To my surprise, not one person refused — and through these conversations I learned about programs to apply to, editors to pitch to, and other writers I should try to talk to.

More here.