5 Summer Networking Tips
The semester is finished, and you’re excited to reunite with your high school friends and hit up a bunch of house parties and spend lazy days at the beach. We all need to recharge, especially after a brutal finals week…but don’t forget to make the most of your break and spend some time networking and creating a foundation that can help your career long after Summer’s over. Don’t get lost in a haze of drinking, Netflix, and a slew of unproductive days. Remember that your efforts over the Summer (whether that be interning, working, taking Summer classes, and/or volunteering) has the potential to set the tone for the upcoming year and beyond. Don’t wait until graduation: start now. Here are 5 tips that will help further your career in the long run.
1) Make Concrete Networking Goals. The best way to actually follow through with your goals is to make them realistic, specific, and concrete. A realistic goal would be to meet 1 new person a week, introduce yourself to whoever else is in the break room while you’re getting coffee, or to invite a coworker to get coffee in the morning. Step outside your comfort zone, and feel free to reach out to co-workers and supervisors to ask some questions about their career path and how they got started. Write down your goals in a weekly planner and check them off when they are completed!
2) Utilize Existing Connections. If you know what career path you want to get into, the best thing for you to do to acquire more knowledge about the field is to talk to people that are currently working in it. Likewise, if you are confused, unsure, or just want more information about the career options available to you, then you should talk to a variety of people that were involved in positions that you could potentially be interested in. Reach out to your parents’ friends and co-workers, your friends’ connections, your professors and people they may know, and use them as a resource! Email them a few questions and establish a rapport, or chat with them when they’re hanging out at your house, or go out to lunch with them. Ask them about the industry, their work-life balance, what skill set would be beneficial, and if they would recommend it.
3) Order Business Cards. You may be thinking that you do not need business cards while still in undergrad, but it can be absolutely invaluable. You never know when you may need one, so come prepared! Even though you may not have a current job, order business cards that reflect your professionalism. Highlight your university and your degree with your year of expected graduation. Include contact information and any other point(s) that you find relevant. Hand these out freely, the more contacts the better. Whether you’re attending a career fair on campus, a young professionals club meeting, networking event, or meeting people on the fly, being able to easily hand over a card will make a better impression and put you in a more advantageous position than trying to scrawl a note on a post-it or fumbling with your smartphone.
4) Attend Networking Events. Attend local networking events in your area, and do so frequently. Join professional organizations, go to mixers and professional events, have informational interviews with executives in a field of interest. You will need to be proactive, don’t just sit back and wait for people to talk to you because as an undergrad, you are at the bottom of the barrel and must take charge of your future career. Be friendly and polished (don’t drink too much!), dress professionally (get a student discount at Express for suits and professional wear), introduce yourself, and mingle with a purpose. Ask people in your field of interest if you can shadow them for a week, or serve as an unpaid intern for a few days to get a feel for the job and to be able to make connections.
5) Follow up. Networking doesn’t end when you head back to school in the Fall. Email the contacts that you have made periodically to maintain a connection. Update them on anything that you are working on (projects, internships) that are relevant to their field. Discuss a current event or trend in the industry to show that you are still interested, and to continue to gain insight from an insider’s perspective. This will demonstrate your initiative and resourcefulness at a potentially critical time where hiring decisions may be mulled over or made. Send physical thank-you cards or a note to thank anyone that has given you their time or any advice or opportunities over the Summer. If the contact is more casual, then drop a sincere thank-you email. Maintain these crucial contacts throughout the year!
Future Career Pinterest Board: Great tips for your future career including resume and cover letter tips, interview advice, insider industry information, inspiration, & more!
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image: 1 , 2 *This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.