As a student, the professional relationships you start forming now will determine the trajectory of your career.
Your time studying provides an excellent opportunity to start practicing networking skills and grow valuable professional networks. Networking doesn’t just open the door to career opportunities, but can also introduce you to a host of other advantages including the formation of friendships that can last a lifetime. Here are some networking tips to get the most of your time as a student.
A great starting point for networking is to first identify your own interests. From there, try to seek out and join groups on campus and elsewhere that are aligned with your interests. Network amongst members of your chosen interest group. Making friends and connections with people you already share something in common with is the easiest place to start.
Reaching out to Alumni
Another great source of networking is the Alumni from your college. You can often meet them by attending networking events on your campus. It’s important to remember that graduates have been in your shoes before, and are thus more likely to want to help you while you are still a student. There is also a good chance that they themselves have connections and can direct you to the right people.
Many institutions provide opportunities for students to mingle with alumni’s in informal settings. Try to seek these opportunities when you can, and remember to be prepared! When you find yourself on a one on one situation, make sure that you have a a preplanned introduction to tell them who you are and what you want from them in 30 seconds. Try to keep it brief and to the point.
Network Close to Home
Don’t forget the connections you already have. Parents and friends can also provide excellent connections too. Again, know exactly what you want, an internship, an informational interview or insight into a company? Make sure to communicate your expectations clearly.
Technology and Social Media
Make sure to get the most out of current technology trends and applications, these can be a great asset to networking. Use social media strategically. LinkedIn is a must for anyone wishing to network professionally in this day and age. LinkedIn is the largest professional network in the world, and it is free! Start by building your immediate network through your contacts and LinkedIn groups. Try to keep Facebook and other personal social media sites separate to your professional image by keeping them set on private.
The best way to form long term working relationships is to get involved as early as possible! The easiest way to do this is by asking for an internship in a business that you are considering as a profession. Internships are invaluable because of the real life experience and skills that you gain, but also the contacts that you make. It’s quite common for internships to lead to full-time employment.
Don’t forget to be grateful! Send thank you emails to anyone who assists you and always proactively offer your help. This is common courtesy in the professional world, and also shows that you are a respectful and considerate, which alone can often take you a long way in the world.