College is considered an academia that students can hone their learning skills through the imparting of education. However, many college students don’t realize that they must also hone their networking skills simultaneously as they study in order to boost their professional stakes.
Students need to hone their networking skills to build up formidable relationships that will help them secure great careers in the future. Networking does not simply mean connecting with people and expecting quick results. It is rather a gradual nurturing process wherein relationships bear fruits eventually as time passes by.
Are you a college student with absolutely no clue as to how to start showing your presence in the future corporate world? Here are 9 pointers that will give your inertia of cluelessness a kick-start and set your networking plan in motion.
Get started by talking to everyone you know – be it family, friends, former coworkers, neighbours, family friends, your grandmother’s knitting club, the mailman – you never know who may have some insight into your field of interest or know someone who does. Let them know your end goals or your interests after getting out of college. This will help you maintain a personal touch with all of them and possibly one of them can help you through their references in a getting a professional start.
If you are enrolled in an industry specific program in college or university, it’s likely that a majority of your classes will be with people working towards the same degree as you, be it engineering, journalism or tourism. Begin by creating relationships with classmates, teaching assistants and your professors.
College is a place where you will find different levels of intellects who can assist you in a great way. Network with as many professors in the college as you can, regardless of whether or not they are your teacher – you never know which professor may help you achieve your goal. You can learn a ton about the professors at your school on the directory and through websites like Rate my Professors and LinkedIn. Learn a bit about them then reach out via email. Introduce yourself, share something you have learned and admire about them and ask if you can connect sometime in person. Or, if you feel comfortable, drop by their office and do this in person.
The primary focus is to start building a network through mutual communication and by proactively meeting people in your field of interest.
Students who have recently graduated from your program or others similar to it should also be your target for professional networking while in college. They will provide you best insights as they have just moved from college to professional world and also might help you build professional relationships.
You can easily get contact information for former grads from your school and email them to connect or add them to your professional network on LinkedIn. Most recent grads will be more than happy to share insight with you, so don’t be shy in reaching out to anyone and everyone.
No matter where you are going to college, there are bound to be a ton of activities being held on campus that offer a fantastic opportunity to grow your network. Keep a sharp eye and an open ear to these activities. When something of interest crops up, grab the opportunity with both hands by attending or volunteering your time to help.
Avoid staying a mute spectator; proactively show interest in the desired activity. Speak to fellow colleagues and professors already involved. This will substantially help build relationships and make peers and professors alike aware of your existence in the market.
A lot of colleges also hold career fairs to provide career information and allow employers to showcase their company and discuss employment opportunities with a focused group of employment-ready students and graduates. Many schools also hold networking events for students to connect with employers in their fields of study, in order for them to learn about the industry and job market.
As all of you know, LinkedIn is a dedicated site for career professionals. If you haven’t set up a LinkedIn profile yet, you want to dedicate some time to doing that asap and growing your network on there.
Make sure you fill out every aspect of your profile to make it more visible to prospective employers and recruiters. Ensure that there are no spelling errors of misinformation in your profile. Use a professional photo if you have one. Follow companies and pages of interest; join groups related to your field of study; connect with professors, previous grads of your program and fellow students; join your college or university alumni page.
An informational interview is a great way to establish contacts in your field and get an inside understanding of your industry of interest. You can connect with industry professionals on LinkedIn or through the company directories at companies you are interested in learning more about.
It’s important that when contacting these people you have a script, so you can be clear and concise in your message and not waste anyone’s time by not providing specific details, such as who you are, the reason you are contacting them and what you are asking for.
For example, “Hi Janet, I am a third-year business student at UCLA and am currently doing research into companies of interested and where my skills and qualifications might fit. Can I ask for 15 minutes of your time to discuss your company and role? Please let me know if this week or next is better.”
In this day and age, your social media presence can be an important networking tool when done right. Strategically market yourself on social media by entering your precise skills sets, your interests and your career plans. Share interesting articles and material related to your field of study to create conversations with others interested in these areas, follow industry professionals and companies in your field, share their posts and comment/ask questions. This will clearly show those key people that you are serious about your career and might approach you for that coveted interview.
An internship is an opportunity for potential employees to work in an organization, with or without pay, in order to gain work experience or to satisfy requirements for a position. It is highly advisable that you take up an internship and do the assigned job diligently. Not only do internships allow you to gain real experience in your field of interest and boost up your resume, they also help you expand your professional network and gain the trust and respect of professionals in your field. This is your golden moment to get a permanent foot into the company door if you do it right.
Networking books sell like hotcakes. The reason is simple – they have a ton of great advice to help you network effectively. You may be overloaded with reading material from your classes, however, it’s worth it to read books that will boost your career during your off time.
Make sure you build up your confidence in meeting up new people thus achieving their trusts in building new professional and personal relationships for a brighter future.
Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you hone your networking skills and land your dream job after college? Browse our directory of career coaches and get a FREE consultation or request a personalized coach recommendation!
Nishant Sinha is the co-founder of Transtutors.com, an Online Assignment Help platform for students of Graduation and Post-Graduation level. He believes that brightest of students need help at times and that academic excellence begets thirst for more knowledge. You can contact him through his LinkedIn or <a href="https://www.facebook.com/nishantsinha1234"Facebook profiles.