What is networking anyway? To put it in the simplest terms, networking is getting to know people who might be able to offer advice or career opportunities in the future. Sounds simple but can be a little tricky to do in real life. Looking to get started on a buildup of your professional network?
Here are 10 hacks to properly network yourself while still in college:
- Make More Friends
College can be a really great time to socialize and make friends. One thing you might not realize is that those connections can be really valuable, professionally, in the future. People leave school, get jobs, and establish their careers in all different walks of life and you never know what connection might pay off in the long run so try and reach out to people with all different types of goals or futures while you're in school. It never hurts to have all kinds of different friendships and acquaintances.
- Join LinkedIn
As you might know, LinkedIn is a professional social platform that allows people to display their resume, job hunt, and connect with companies and individuals in a professional capacity. Most employers, if not all, check a candidate’s LinkedIn profile before they interview or hire anyone. This platform can also be used to connect with recent graduates who can help offer you advice on what life after college is like and some tips on what has worked for them and what has not. This is a great tool to use to network with people.
- Visit Career Fairs
It sounds like a no-brainer, after all, career fairs are free. But many students never take advantage of this resource. Visit the career fairs being held at your school; it can help you bolster your professional network. It can also help you land some interviews and job prospects. When you attend a career fair, try introducing yourself and chatting a bit with the recruiters. Just having someone remember your face and/or name can really set you apart in the hiring process down the road.
- Get Involved in Student Organizations
Student organizations are fun and easy places to make connections with people who share your interests. The bonus? A lot of these folks might be pursuing opportunities in similar career fields as you. Join any clubs or organizations that fit your long-term career goals and start looking to make friends. This can pay off big-time in the long run.
- Take Advantage of Your School’s Career Center
Your school’s career center is literally there to help students properly prepare for successful futures. It is the perfect place to go to get help in developing jobs skills for life after college. Career centers employ experts who not only have an alumni professional network at their disposal but also know the ins and outs of getting hired. So, do yourself a favor and visit your school’s career center immediately.
- Strive to Land an Internship
An internship is a great way to get professional experience and network. Internships provide real exposure to meeting a lot of successful people who are in the position to hire or recommend you for upcoming opportunities. They are also the perfect opportunity to build a “personal brand”, such as a hard worker, smart, gets the job done, etc. that can be incredibly useful in bolstering a resume. Take advantage of the opportunities and people that your internship offers and maximize the benefits.
- Get to Know Your Professors
Many people forget that their professors are actually great people to network with. Most Professors have a Ph.D. and are well-versed in the field of what they are teaching. Many can offer insights and recommendations about potential career paths – both in and out of college – and what that might mean for you in the future. Try to build a relationship with them outside of just your homework assignments and get to know them on a personal level, because once again, you never know what the future might hold.
- Ask for Help from Your Academic Advisors
An Academic advisor’s job is to help you navigate college classes and obtain your degree successfully. Not only are these people a great point of contact for quick questions but great people to network with. They have worked hand-in-hand with others and are bound to know the ins and outs (and what pitfalls to avoid) at being successful. They can also, potentially, connect you to other individuals or resources that can help with your career plans.
- Speak with Your Teacher Assistants
TA’S and LA’S (learning assistants) are typically former students or graduate students that are now working for the university. These students more often than not have recently been through everything you might be experiencing and can have some great insights and advice.
- Talk to Your Peers
Fun (and obvious) fact, the people sitting next to you in class are people to network with as well. It worked for me. I met Sydney and Allie in my undergraduate research class and I just asked them if they knew of any opportunities that can provide Marketing experience. They both responded, “Actually, we’re ambassadors for McGraw Hill” and the rest is history because I am now writing blogs for the company to help you all be much more successful in college. Your peers are great folks to network with, after all you never know what they might lead to you towards.
Networking in college can seem intimidating or even draining but it’s really not. Taking the time and a little bit of effort to connect with people while in school can go a long, long way towards getting you well connected for your future career.