Networking tips can sometimes seem daunting and complicated. The phrase it’s not what you know it’s who you know is now more important than ever. For college students it can seem daunting to find an internship or a post graduate job. Networking is a great way to not have to cold apply to applications, and feel like you have a better chance at the job or internship you want. Below are some networking tips that every college student can use.
Linked-In is the easiest way to start networking. Think of it as a social media platform for your professional side, you essentially have an online resume, and can connect with your peers, employers, or alumni from your school. linked-in is a great way to create a professional presence online, and many employers will look on linked in before they respond to an application. Linked-in is a great way to reach out to people in fields that you are interested in working in, and you are more likely to get a response because they can see your profile and experience.
2. Informational Interviews
When reaching out to someone, even if you want them to flag your resume, or potentially offer you a position or an interview at their company, always ask for an informational interview about their field, career, and experience. Many people are happy to give advice to students, but most people may be reluctant to immediately help someone with their career before even having a conversation. Informational interviews are great ways to learn about a certain industry or job, and you can get great advice from people who were able to be successful in areas you admire.
3. Create A Portfolio
A portfolio is a great way to showcase the work you have done, and give employers an example of what you are capable of. Many recruiters know that resumes can be embellished, and a portfolio is something you can send to recruiters and other people you are networking with to showcase your best work. If you have any written or visual work you are proud of, you can create an online portfolio to show recruiters. This is great to have when you reach out to people you want to network with, because it quickly shows them your talents.
4. Reach Out To Alumni With The Same Interests Or Experience
Alumni are great networking resources, but if you go to a large school, sometimes alumni are unresponsive. If you reach out to alumni that were in the same greek organization, small major, club, or sport as you, they are more likely to respond because they have more in common with you.
5. Research Who You Are Networking With
If you have an informational interview with someone, always make sure to find a biography on them or look at their linked-in before. You don’t want to seem unprepared with speaking with them, and you want to be able to ask specific questions that you couldn’t find from google. People want to see that you are interested and passionate about the field, and you don’t want to waste time on easy questions.
6. Send A Follow Up Thank You Email
After you speak with someone, sending a short thank you email is a great touch. It shows that you appreciate their time, and is a really simple thing you can do to set yourself apart. The email can be super short, and reference a specific thing you discussed in your talk. If you forgot to ask a certain question, or wanted to follow up on something, this is also a good opportunity. This is something that is really easy to do, but many students forget about it.
7. Network With Your Peers
Your peers, whether it’s in your classes, at a current internship or job, or in a club, also have so many resources and tips. Networking isn’t just for people who already have careers, your peers are great future connections that you interact with all the time. Don’t be afraid to ask the people around you what works for them, and they may know of opportunities or resources you hadn’t thought of. This networking tip is super easy to do in your day to day routine, and can be really useful long term. Additionally, your peers probably have some networking tips of their own, and can have insightful and specific advice.
8. Get Involved On Campus
As far as networking tips goes, this probably seems initially unrelated, to helping you network. Joining different organizations and clubs are great ways to meet a variety of different people, and interact with advisors and alumni of the organizations. Many organizations like greek life or clubs often attend larger conferences and have speakers come, so you can meet people interested in similar fields.
9. Attend Job Fairs And Networking Events
This may seem obvious, but sometimes a job fair is the last thing you want to do. Even if it seems exhausting, job fairs are a great way to meet people face to face and discuss your career. You also can learn about job openings before they are posted, and have a head start on applications. Even if you go to a job fair and don’t see a company or position you are interested in, you can use it as practice to speak with employers and be able to present yourself the way you want to.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Out
Once again, this may be obvious but is super important. The hard part about networking is reaching out first to successful people you admire. Even if you reach out to someone, the worst that can happen is they don’t respond. As long as you are polite and grateful, nothing but good can come from networking. Many successful people are eager to help passionate students with their careers, and welcome networking opportunities.