Networking opens doors in your industry that otherwise, you might never get. Set yourself to success with our networking tips for students.
When it’s finally time to look for their first professional job, most students use online ads to find theirs. They compete with dozens or hundreds other successful students for every position while having no industry experience and not much negotiation power.
Then there are the few students who build relationships in their industry, and let industry decision makers get to know them before they ever need a job. When one of these managers needs to fill the type of position these students are looking for – or if the manager hears of someone who does – it’s quite possible these students will get the job without much, if any, competition.
Want to be one of these students? It’s time to learn how to network.
Networking Tip #1: Reach Out to Professors
Your professors have been studying your industry for years, possibly decades. Some of them are well-respected experts. Be active in their classrooms so they’ll remember you, and take advantage of any one on one consultations they offer.
Networking Tip #2: Use Your Career Services Office
The team at the career services office at your university can help you improve your resume and connect you with available jobs, but it can also connect you with former students who are now working in your industry and have connections of their own.
Networking Tip #3: Talk to Graduates
No one knows what it’s like to enter the market these days as a recent graduate more than other recent graduates. People who’ve graduated in the past couple of years will probably be open to connect with you. But make an effort to talk to other graduates from your university too, those who are now established in their careers.
Networking Tip #4: Join College Networking Groups
These could be great places to connect with graduates, but also with people who are still students in your major or a similar one. Remember that in a few years, these could be your colleagues, and might even be in a position to hire you.
Networking Tip #5: Talk to Relatives and Friends’ Relatives
Got anyone in your family who’s working in your industry? How about your friends’ relatives? Tell everyone in your personal network that you’re looking to build connections in the industry, and you’d love an introduction.
Networking Tip #6: Get a Part Time Job that’s Related to Your Major
Get a part time job in a position that’s related to your major, or in a company whose name could impress people in your industry. Use the time you have in the company to make a great impression and to connect with colleagues.
Networking Tip #7: Get an Internship
Many companies offer internships to students and recent graduates, which lets you learn a lot about the industry from the inside, and sometimes lets you work directly with industry leaders. The pay is usually low or nonexistent, but if you can afford it, it’s worth to take on an internship for a few months.
Networking Tip #8: Volunteer
Nonprofits everywhere are looking for additional working hands that are willing to donate their expertise. If you’re stuck in the “can’t get a job without experience, but can’t get experience without a job” phase, consider donating the skills you learned in college. Choose your nonprofits carefully – having the respected ones in your portfolio can help open doors for you. Do a great job for these nonprofits, and their managers will probably be happy to connect you with their network when the chance comes up.
Networking Tip #9: Be Active on Social Media & Put Extra Effort into LinkedIn
Join Facebook groups and Twitter chats that are popular in your industry. Follow relevant hashtags on Instagram. Participate in conversations. Ask questions. Add your own insights. Before you know it, people in the industry will start knowing who you are.
Put extra efforts on LinkedIn, which is the #1 professional network. People join it specifically to build professional relationships, advance their careers and grow their businesses. In many industries, this is the best place to join group discussions and invite other professionals to connect with you.
Networking Tip #10: Attend Industry Events
Make an effort to meet professionals from your industry in-person whenever possible. Conferences are a great way to do that, and you can sometimes get a job or volunteer at a conference in order to get a free or discounted ticket. Meetup.com is another great solution if you’re looking for free industry events.
Networking Tip #11: Ask for Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are opportunities to learn more about your industry from successful people. You won’t be interviewed for a job – you’ll be interviewing others on what it takes to get their type of job, and what that job looks like from the inside. Remember that successful people get asked to do informational interviews a lot, so it’s always best to build relationships first using the tips in this article. Then, a one on one phone call, Skype or in person interview will deepen your connection even more.
Networking Tip #12: Get a Career Mentors
Career mentors can help guide which types of jobs you should take to get to where you want to go. If you network authentically using the tips above, it might take some time, but chances are you’ll end up finding career mentors who’ll be happy to guide you and introduce you to their networks.
The Most Important Networking Tip Nobody Tells Students
Start now, while you’re still a student. If you’re reading this before you start college, start now nonetheless. It takes time to build authentic professional relationships, the kind that will really stick by your side and help you succeed – just as it takes time to build true friendships.
Start as early as possible, and you’ll set yourself to success.