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Networking is an essential skill for landing a career. Some jobs aren’t even posted online, instead, it’s all about who you know. In fact, 80% of jobs are filled through networking. So, why not start developing this skill in college where you have resources. Here are ten tips for networking in college.
1. Be Prepared
When you start networking, you want to appear professional. That means having your resume and contact information easily available. Also, proofread your resume and make sure it’s updated. Have multiple copies on hand. Also, carry a small notebook to jot down any important information. Consider scheduling meetings with people in advance. This way you have plenty of time to get everything in order.
2. Make a Good First Impression
Keep in mind you only have one chance to make a first impression. When meeting someone, always introduce yourself using your full name. Greet them with a smile and firm handshake. Also, it’s polite to make eye contact. In addition, wear business casual attire, even if it isn’t a formal event. For girls, consider wearing a blouse and men a button-down shirt.
3. Practice Your Pitch
You never know when you could meet a potential connection. That’s why it’s critical to have your pitch prepared and memorized. Create an elevator pitch, which is a brief overview of your background and experience. It should last the length of an elevator ride, so around 30-40 seconds. The speech should include your qualifications and career goals. Having something prepared can prevent you from going blank in the moment.
4. Ask For Guidance From Your Connections
Instead of asking for a job right away, use your networking connections to gain advice. They have been through similar experiences and can give you valuable insight. For example, they might share tips on how they landed their first job. Asking for help shows you’re interested in getting to know the person.
5. Use Social Media
When networking in college, it’s easy to make connections online. Use sites, such as Linkedin, to connect with professionals in your industry. It’s also a good way to learn more about your field and stay updated on job listings or new business trends. Make sure you have a current profile. It should include information, like previous job experience and your email.
To find connections, you can use the search bar or look under the “people you may know section.” Also, take advantage of Linkedin events and groups. When using social media, keep your public accounts appropriate.
Employers may search your social media as part of the application process. So, consider setting certain accounts private and removing inappropriate photos or comments. You can do a quick google search of your name to see what comes up.
6. Do Your Research
Before you meet the employer, research the company and the person’s background. Knowing this information can help you ask more thoughtful and in-depth questions. That way you can learn more about the role. Plus, it shows you’re interested in the company and makes a good first impression.
To learn more about the organization, check out their website. You can also look into their company’s social media accounts or corporate blogs. In addition, search for the employer on Linkedin.
7. Make Networking Part of Your Daily Routine
Once you meet a new connection, the networking doesn’t stop there. Follow up with them even after events like job fairs. Consider sending them a Linkedin request with a personalized message.
Networking should be a part of your everyday routine. Talk with your professors and other classmates about your career goals. They may have connections or advice for you. Continue to update your social media accounts and reach out to employers daily. Another thing to remember is to continue networking even after you find a job. You may need to rely on your connections for references.
8. Be Active on Campus
Getting involved on campus is a good way to meet new people and start building your network. Join clubs, become involved in student media, or play an intramural sport. That way you can connect with other students and faculty. Plus, some clubs hold events with professional speakers, expanding your potential network. To get involved, attend your club fair or look around campus for event posters.
9. Work With Your Career Center
When networking in college, your career center is an excellent resource. They can help you find internships and job openings. Internships are valuable ways to make professional connections. Some centers may even conduct mock interviews or provide updates on career fairs. Career fairs are easy ways to get your name out there and learn more about your field.
10. Make the First Move
While it can feel scary, sometimes you have to make the first move. If you’re interested in a company, reach out to their employees. It shows your confidence and interest in the role. When connecting, try to get to know the person before asking for a job. Ask thoughtful questions, like “How did you get your position?” Developing personal relationships can help you stand out from your competition.
What to Know When Networking in College
As a college student, you have a busy schedule, but take time to build connections. Networking in college can help you land a job after graduation. So, follow these tips to build a strong network.