So I know what you’re thinking… why network when you’re in college? You’ve got enough on your plate already and aren’t you supposed to worry about networking when you graduate?
Ring ring, here’s your wake-up call!!
College is the perfect place to start networking! There are free resources all around you. Teachers, guidance counselors, anyone. Networking is so much more than small talk; the connections you make could be extremely beneficial once you graduate.
So, how do you start? Here’s some easy tips-
1. Get involved on campus. Clubs, honor societies, internships, and student government are all simple ways to make connections with people. Meeting students, faculty, and guest speakers couldn’t be easier.
2. Online is everything. Build your online presence, because employers are going to be looking for that. Make a LinkedIn profile if you don’t have one. Clean your social media; no one wants to see pictures of you drinking on a Tuesday (especially not future employers).
3. Step out of your comfort zone! This one is really hard, especially for us introverts. But, it shouldn’t be! Be genuine and speak up if you’re interested in someone or what they do/how they got there. Actually take an interest in who you are speaking to and most of the time they’ll be interested in the conversation as well.
- Easy ways to start a conversation- “Any advice for a college student looking in your field?” “How did you get where you are?” “Any regrets about where you are now career-wise?”
- If you’re really too nervous, email them! Whether you know a person or not, reach out! Worst case- they don’t reply back. What have you got to lose?
4. Don’t try to plan it. Just incorporate this into your everyday life! You don’t have to plan ahead which days you’re going to try to network– some days you’ll meet people who inspire you and some days you won’t.
5. Engage your professors. Whether you think so or not, your professors are there to help you and are extremely well connected. Not to mention they’ll be necessary for recommendations later on.
6. Utilize your resources. Especially the free ones. Career services exists to help you find a career, so don’t be afraid to use it! This is what they’re trained to do.
7. Don’t forget them. Add the person you meet on Linked.in or follow their company on social media. Or, make a notes section in your phone dedicated to professionals who may come in handy later. Simply writing down a name could be worthwhile in the future.
Networking is super easy and SUPER helpful when looking for jobs. The job market is competitive today that leaving a good impression with people in your field is a bonus when it comes to applying. Don’t hesitate, be bold.