As I have progressed through my career, I have come to find that the most valuable asset I have is my network of relationships. Today we call this networking, but early in my career, networking wasn’t discussed and I didn’t think about its value. Over the years, I’ve learned that I can call upon my network to help me get the right information and solve problems. My network not only makes it easier to do my job, but makes me more successful, both personally and professionally.

My advice to any young profes sional is to begin networking today. Build your network of peers and leaders wherever you spend your time – at school, in the community and in professional organizations. Look for mentors as well as others you can mentor. By building strong connections, we expand our horizons while also supporting one another. It may help you with projects, give you opportunities or even help you find your path forward.

In my job, I put a focus on the sci ence, technology, engineering and math (STEM) needs of our country through a strong network of K12, community college and university educators and leaders. Just recently, I again realized the power of the network when I learned that two educators I introduced to each other had collaborated and were creating an engineering curriculum transfer able from the community college to the university. Imagine my delight in this partnership, as it is a huge step in helping develop more engineers for the future, which is something my business needs to succeed.

At Raytheon, networking inside and outside of the company is essential. Connecting employees in virtual teams across the company has helped us give our customers the best solution for their missions. It also helps attract talented employees and connects us in important ways to our communities.

I realize networking isn’t easy for everyone. Some of us have to challenge ourselves to actively connect with oth ers. I encourage that effort because the payoffs are big. We can learn so much from each other and understand diverse perspectives to make better, more informed decisions. Networking maximizes your resources and leverages your knowledge in new ways. You have an incredible base of expertise and experience at your fingertips through your connections. If you reach out to and use this network, you will be posi tioned for success.