As a student you are constantly told about the importance of networking for your future career. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is a common phrase professors like to tell their students. There is a hidden job market where internships and careers are only available by networking (approximately 80% of jobs are unadvertised). When the time comes to graduate, having a well-built network can open up opportunities you would have never known about.
The simplest way to begin networking is to attend networking events, career fairs and joining student societies. Active participation is the key to networking in college. At first networking seems stressful and awkward, but by getting involved with fellow peers the fear is eliminated. By joining a student society in your intended professional field you will network with many professionals and learn about events that will grow your network.
If you already have an internship that is even more of an opportunity to network. Network with as many people as possible during your internship; having valuable contacts later in life could be beneficial. Professors are also a great resource for networking; they will know of opportunities that could be of interest to you. Social media is a great tool for networking as well, specifically Twitter and LinkedIn. Follow and interact with companies you are interested in, people who seem influential in your chosen field or professional societies. You will learn of openings through posts or networking events that you may want to attend.
The don’ts of networking are simple: do not offer your resume unless you are asked for it, never lose your manners, never forget to introduce yourself, do not contact someone too many times without having them also contact you, and most importantly do not waste opportunities.
Check out this short video featuring Mike Harrison, former Regional Director for Business Networking International
Tips for successful networking:
1. Have a good introduction ready (30 second pitch):
My name is…..
I am a _____ student in ______
I want to gain experience in _____
(or) my future career goal is _____
2. Do your research
Always come prepared even if it is informal. Research as much about the company or event as you can using Google, LinkedIn, etc.
3. Be Appropriately Dressed
First impressions are important; your image reflects more about you than you know.
4. Bring extra copies of your resume
5. Use Meaningful Conversational Skills
Interest in the person you are speaking with allows you to be genuine and opens the road for networking.
6. Send a Thank You
Thank anyone and everyone who you meet or gives you advice. A simple email to keep in touch can help you develop a future network.
Have you started networking outside of school yet? Answer yes or no on our Facebook page!