The career-networking site AfterCollege.com found four out of five college seniors graduating in the next few weeks do not have jobs. Even those majoring in fields said to be marketable AKA the STEM fields, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, weren’t locking down jobs either. College teaches you a lot, but one of the things that many students do not practice during their years in school is how to properly network which is really all about selling your brand and finding the right connections. Here is a crash course in networking for new grads.
Talk with your professors
Before you leave school (not that you couldn’t email though) be sure to ask your favorite professors for any job advice they may have or if they know of any companies that are hiring. They may very well have some great ideas. Just be sure that you have already established a relationship with the professor.
Establish your elevator pitch
In case you don’t know, the elevator pitch is a brief summary, short and to the point, about you and/or the company/product you represent, says Jennifer Read, Director of Career Services for The Art Institute of Charlotte. Aptly named because it should last no longer than a typical elevator ride. “We tell our students to imagine that they just got on the elevator with that one big contact they have been trying to meet, and they only have that short ride to convince that person why they should consider them or their product. Why is it important?- Business, every business, is about networking. You need to be able to make a contact, exchange your pertinent information, spark their interest and build a connection that will lead to future business, meaningfully and concisely.
Work on your elevator pitch. Own it. Love it. Make it your mantra. Because you need to pitch it to anyone over the next year in order to launch your career.
Use the network you have (ie your friends and family)
Now is the time to get in touch with that cool aunt with the awesome job and just pick her brain. Or what about your dad’s college roommate that works in the same field you want to enter? And don’t fear if you think everyone you know can’t help you because they have their own networks too that may be able to help you. Send out an announcement about your graduation and ask if they may be willing to help you out or introduce you to some connections.
Attend networking events
These may sound super intimidating but you have got to do it. Even if you don’t make any contacts, you need the practice of just walking up to people you don’t know and introducing yourself. Here are some great ice breakers. There are many resources for finding networking events near you, but also try some less conventional places. Attend a panel or lecture or look for in-house networking events. You will appreciate the ability to speak with potential bosses and coworkers in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.
Or take the online route and try a virtual career fair. More and more companies are also starting to post openings or networking events on their Twitter and LinkedIn pages. Plus, you should be studying up on any company you are interested in working for.
Clean up your social media act
As part of your online networking, you need to make sure you have a stellar (and clean) social media profile. Gone are the days of photos of you sampling the beers of the world at every bar in your college town. Your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts need to be PC, smart and really the launching pad for your brand. Employers will check these out so this is a time to show off your skills and intelligence. Here are some great social media cleanup tips.
Put your phone down and talk to people
This is the time to just start talking to people. At every party you go to, every coffee shop, heck at the grocery store, put that phone down and look around you. Converse with people. Be open. Also, remember that you can also help others. Maybe you see that a company doesn’t have much of a social media presence. Give them some tips and offer to help them. You never know where it could lead…